In Science this week, a multi-institute research team reports data from a whole-genome sequencing study that suggest paternally inherited cis-regulatory structural variants predispose children to autism spectrum disorder (ASD). The scientists analyzed 9,274 subjects from 2,600 families affected by ASD — diagnosed patients, as well as unaffected siblings and parents — and found that fathers passed noncoding structural variations to their children with ASD at a high rate compared to unaffected siblings. "Our results suggest that rare inherited noncoding variants predispose children to ASD, with differing contributions from each parent," the authors write. GenomeWeb has more on this study, here.
And in Science Advances, a group led by University of Tokyo researchers publishes a study showing that female swallowtail butterflies' capability for Batesian mimicry — a defense mechanism in which they resemble a noxious organism — evolved independently through different genetic mechanisms. The researchers performed whole-genome sequence analyses in two of the butterfly species — Papilio polytes and Papilio memnon — and found that while Batesian mimicry in the species results from gene expression in generally the same genomic region, the structures of the regions are based on the presence or absence of chromosomal inversions. This finding suggests that "independent evolutionary processes with different genetic mechanisms have led to parallel evolution of similar female-limited polymorphisms underlying Batesian mimicry in Papilio butterflies," they write.