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This Week in PLOS: Jan 18, 2016

In PLOS Genetics, researchers from the University of California, Davis, and the University of Southern California describe a statistical strategy for building geogenetic maps of relationships between stationary populations from diverse sites using genome-wide variant data, demonstrating the veracity of the approach in samples from greenish warblers living in different parts of Tibet and in human populations around the world. "We depict the effect of admixture using arrows, from a sources of admixture to its target, on the inferred map," the team says. "The inferred geogenetic map is an intuitive and information-rich visual summary of patterns of population structure."

A team from France and Cote d'Ivoire tally up microbes present in half a dozen tick species from Cote d'Ivoire. As they report in PLOS Neglected Tropical Diseases, the researchers used a combination of real-time and standard PCR assays to assess microbial representatives found in 378 Cote d'Ivoire ticks. Their search led to several potential pathogens, including the Q fever-causing microbe Coxiella burnetii and Rickettsia species, which can cause spotted fevers. Other new tick-borne species had murkier pathogenic potential, but were related to species linked to disease in the past.

Researchers from the University of Tuebingen and elsewhere report on mutations identified in individuals with retinal dystrophy for a paper appearing in PLOS One. Using retinal dystrophy gene panel sequencing and/or exome sequencing, the team assessed mutation profiles in dozens of individuals or families affected by a range of retinal dystrophy subtypes. The search uncovered suspicious mutations in more than 60 percent of the patients — glitches that fell in nearly three dozen known retinal dystrophy risk genes and two genes not identified in previous studies of the vision-loss disease. "Clinical reassessment results in refinement of the clinical diagnosis in some of the families and confirmed the broad clinical spectrum associated with mutations in [retinal dystrophy] genes."