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This Week in PNAS: Feb 21, 2017

Researchers from the University of Rhode Island track population structure and processes influencing genetic diversity in Thalassiosira rotula diatoms, looking at half a dozen microsatellite markers in T. rotula representatives collected at sites around the world. Based on genetic patterns present in diatom marine microbes collected during the same time frame at sites in the Pacific, Indian, or Atlantic Oceans, the team concludes that divergence related to the distance between populations was eclipsed by environmental and ecological selection. "[W]e provide empirical evidence for global gene flow in a marine eukaryotic microbe," the authors write, "suggesting that everything holds the potential to be everywhere, with environmental and ecological selection rather than geography or dispersal dictating the structure and evolution of diversity over space and time."

A University of Texas, Austin-led team takes a look at genome shifts in dozens of Escherichia coli populations grown over thousands of generations under one of five different temperature conditions. Using whole-genome sequencing and comparative analyses, the researchers analyzed clones taken at the end point in 30 temperature-evolved populations. In the process, they detected just over five mutations per evolved strain, on average, with an uptick in mutated gene overlap between isolates evolved under similar conditions compare to those grown at distinct temperatures.

Researchers from Russia, France, and the US describe a microfluidic droplet method for doing ultra high-throughput screening on individual cells. Their approach brought together microfluidic double emulsion technology, or double water-in-oil-in-water emulsion, with fluorescence activated cell sorting. In combination with high-throughput sequencing, and liquid chromatography-mass spectrometry, the team used its approach to analyze single-cell secretomes in yeast before applying the screening method to Saccharomyces aureus microbes and other single cell types.

The Scan

ChatGPT Does As Well As Humans Answering Genetics Questions, Study Finds

Researchers in the European Journal of Human Genetics had ChatGPT answer genetics-related questions, finding it was about 68 percent accurate, but sometimes gave different answers to the same question.

Sequencing Analysis Examines Gene Regulatory Networks of Honeybee Soldier, Forager Brains

Researchers in Nature Ecology & Evolution find gene regulatory network differences between soldiers and foragers, suggesting bees can take on either role.

Analysis of Ashkenazi Jewish Cohort Uncovers New Genetic Loci Linked to Alzheimer's Disease

The study in Alzheimer's & Dementia highlighted known genes, but also novel ones with biological ties to Alzheimer's disease.

Tara Pacific Expedition Project Team Finds High Diversity Within Coral Reef Microbiome

In papers appearing in Nature Communications and elsewhere, the team reports on findings from the two-year excursion examining coral reefs.