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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.