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This Week in PNAS: Jul 18, 2017

In the early, online edition of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, an international team led by investigators in France explores the history and genetic diversity of the people of Madagascar. After collecting samples on a grid for more than 2,700 individuals from 257 Madagascar villages between 2007 and 2014, the researchers conducted array-based genotyping for 700 individuals, along with mitochondrial DNA sequencing on 2,671 individuals, and Y chromosome sequencing on 1,554 males from the sampled populations. Their results pointed to ancestry from Bantu and Austronesian sources, with spatial genetic differences offering clues to the timing and nature of mixing on the island and factors influencing population structure since then. GenomeWeb has more on this here.

Researchers from Switzerland, Australia, and Canada describe loss-of-function mutations in the IFIH1 genes that seem to influence respiratory infection severity in children. The team did exome and transcriptome sequencing on 120 children who were admitted to the hospital with respiratory failure as a consequence of common respiratory infections such as bronchiolitis or human respiratory syncytial virus. Eight of the children carried a rare, loss-of-function mutation in IFIH1, a gene that codes for a receptor component contributing to viral RNA sensing. The study's authors note that "other genetic or non-genetic risk factors remain to be discovered" through larger studies and/or investigators involving whole-genome sequencing.

Using nuclear genome sequencing, investigators from the University of Texas, the University of Pennsylvania, and elsewhere characterize cryptic butterfly species whose existence was suggested from prior DNA barcode, ecological, and natural history studies. In particular, their results suggest that butterflies classified as Udranomia kikkawai (Weeks) in Costa Rica actually encompass three different species called U. kikkawai, U. sallydaleyae Burns, and U. tomdaleyi Burns that are found in rainforest, dry forest, and combination environments, respectively.

The Scan

Denisovan Girl's Tooth Found in Laos

CNN reports that a tooth found in a cave north of Vientiane likely belonged to a Denisovan girl.

A Lack of Diversity in Trials

A new report from the National Academies of Science, Engineering, and Medicine examines the limited representation of diverse groups among clinical trial participants.

Another Look

A new inquiry is to be held after genetic evidence indicates that Kathleen Folbigg's children may have been at increased risk of sudden death, the Sydney Morning Herald reports.

Nucleic Acids Research Studies on ICARUS, Neighbor-seq, CADDIE

In Nucleic Acids Research this week: resource to analyze and visualize single-cell RNA-seq data, method to examine cellular interactions, and more.