What we're reading: Hyperlocal gene flow, SCOTUS decision on gene patents, and the mother of all microsatellite datasets

Reading at Mont des Arts

In the journals
Pemberton, T.J., Degiorgio, M. & Rosenberg, N. a. 2013. Population structure in a comprehensive genomic data set on human microsatellite variation. G3: Genes, Genomes, Genetics 3: 891–907. doi: 10.1534/g3.113.005728.

Here, we combine eight human population-genetic data sets at the 645 microsatellite loci they share in common, accounting for procedural differences in the production of the different data sets, to assemble a single data set containing 5,795 individuals from 267 worldwide populations.

(Hat tip to Razib Khan, who calls this “the mother of all microsatellite papers.”)
Henss, J.M., Moeller, J.R., Theim, T.J. & Givnish, T.J. 2013. Spatial scales of genetic structure and gene flow in Calochortus albus (Liliaceae). Ecology and Evolution 3: 1461–1470. doi: 10.1002/ece3.566.

Our data on SGS imply that the root-mean-square distance of gene dispersal σ is between 5 and 43 m, and that neighborhood size is between 52 and 194 individuals. Limited gene flow provides a potential explanation for local differentiation seen within species of Calochortus (e.g., in C. albus from the northern Sierras vs. south Coast Ranges [Ownbey 1940]), the high level of local endemism seen across species, the geographic coherence of individual clades of Calochortus, and the parallel adaptive radiations the genus has undergone for several traits in different areas.

Stachowicz, J.J., Kamel, S.J., Hughes, a R. & Grosberg, R.K. 2013. Genetic relatedness influences plant biomass accumulation in eelgrass (Zostera marina). The American Naturalist 181: 715–24. doi: 10.1086/669969.

… contrary to the pattern observed in multispecies assemblages, maximum biomass occurred in assemblages of more closely related individuals.

In the news
The U.S. Supreme Court rules (as most folks seem to be interpreting it) that naturally occurring DNA sequences may not be patented. But the text of the decision [PDF] is drawing complaints from people who know actual biology, and one justice admitted in his concurrence that he doesn’t understand the science.
On the danger of false positives in high-throughput sequencing results.
Thinking about tenure as a safety net.
A good idea for a new blog: Nice R Code. (Get it?)

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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