What we're reading: Tapeworm genomes, population structure in rivers, and Mendelian pythons

As we head into the weekend, here’s a few things we’ve noticed that might be worth your screen time.
In the journals
Tsai, I.J., Zarowiecki, M., Holroyd, N., Garciarrubio, A., Sanchez-Flores, A., Brooks, K.L., et al. 2013. The genomes of four tapeworm species reveal adaptations to parasitism. Nature doi: 10.1038/nature12031.

Tapeworms have specialized detoxification pathways, metabolism that is finely tuned to rely on nutrients scavenged from their hosts, and species-specific expansions of non-canonical heat shock proteins and families of known antigens. We identify new potential drug targets, including some on which existing pharmaceuticals may act.

Gaspar, J.M. & Thomas, W.K. 2013. Assessing the consequences of denoising marker-based metagenomic data. PLoS ONE 8: e60458. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0060458.

… we processed a real 16S rRNA metagenomic dataset through five denoising pipelines. By reconstituting the sequence reads at each stage of the pipelines, we determined how the reads were being altered.

Fourcade, Y., Chaput-Bardy, A., Secondi, J., Fleurant, C. & Lemaire, C. 2013. Is local selection so widespread in river organisms? Fractal geometry of river networks leads to high bias in outlier detection. Molecular Ecology 2065–2073. doi: 10.1111/mec.12158.

… using simulations we showed that FST outlier tests pro- vided a high rate of false-positives (up to 60%) in fractal environments such as river net- works. Surprisingly, the number of sampled demes was correlated with parameters of population genetic structure, such as the variance of FSTs, and hence strongly influenced the rate of outliers.

In the news
The trouble with Big Data is that big != useful.
Round and wrinkly peas got your genetics students snoozing? Try teaching Mendelian inheritance with ball pythons.

About Jeremy Yoder

Jeremy B. Yoder is an Associate Professor of Biology at California State University Northridge, studying the evolution and coevolution of interacting species, especially mutualists. He is a collaborator with the Joshua Tree Genome Project and the Queer in STEM study of LGBTQ experiences in scientific careers. He has written for the website of Scientific American, the LA Review of Books, the Chronicle of Higher Education, The Awl, and Slate.
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