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This Week in Science: May 3, 2019

In Science this week, a group led by Baylor University scientists use genomics to investigate how killifish adapted to survive in highly polluted and toxic regions of the Gulf of Mexico. Using experimental and population genomic analyses, the researchers uncover variation in genes with known associations to toxic resistance and conclude that these adaptations resulted from hybridization of genetic material from the Atlantic killifish, which is believed to have been accidentally introduced into the Gulf through human activity. "Our work shows that hybridization can provide variation crucial for adaptation following swift and extreme environmental change," the researchers write.

And in Science Advances, French and African investigators publish a genomic analysis of the yam, a major staple crop originating in Africa, to better understand its domestication. Combining whole-genome resequencing and statistical models, they show that the cultivated yam was domesticated from a forest species, and infer that the expansion of African yam agriculture started in the Niger River basin. The findings, they write, support the hypothesis that the vicinity of the Niger River was a major cradle of African agriculture.

The Scan

Genetic Ancestry of South America's Indigenous Mapuche Traced

Researchers in Current Biology analyzed genome-wide data from more than five dozen Mapuche individuals to better understand their genetic history.

Study Finds Variants Linked to Diverticular Disease, Presents Polygenic Score

A new study in Cell Genomics reports on more than 150 genetic variants associated with risk of diverticular disease.

Mild, Severe Psoriasis Marked by Different Molecular Features, Spatial Transcriptomic Analysis Finds

A spatial transcriptomics paper in Science Immunology finds differences in cell and signaling pathway activity between mild and severe psoriasis.

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.