What we're reading: Genetic diversity at the range edge, symbiote-mediated host shifting, and the T-rex nontroversy

In the journals
Assis J., Castilho Coelho N., Alberto F., Valero M., Raimondi P., Reed D., Alvares Serrão E., 2013 High and distinct range-edge genetic diversity despite local bottlenecks (SJ Goldstien, Ed.). PLoS ONE 8: e68646. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0068646.

As predicted, higher differentiation and signs of bottlenecks were found at the southern edge region. However, a decrease in genetic diversity associated with this pattern was not verified. Surprisingly, genetic diversity increased towards the edge despite bottlenecks and much lower densities, suggesting that extinctions and recolonizations have not strongly reduced diversity or that diversity might have been even higher there in the past, a process of shifting genetic baselines.

Brown A. M. V., Huynh L. Y., Bolender C. M., Nelson K. G., McCutcheon J. P., 2013 Population genomics of a symbiont in the early stages of a pest invasion. Molecular Ecology. doi: 10.1111/mec.12366.

We were primarily interested in determining the role of the symbiont in causing the emergence of the pest phenotype in the US. We found strong evidence that the genotype of US Ishikawaella in M. cribraria functionally resembles the Ishikawaella strain that confers the pest status in Japan, in M. punctatissima. Thus, we suggest the initial population of invading insects was probably able to infest soybeans, a surprising result given the resemblance of the host insect to nonpests in Asia.

In the news
What’s it feel like to watch the popular science media rehash a controversy that your field resolved years ago? “… like I am trapped under that fridge.”
A method to suppress expression from a whole chromosome could treat Down’s Syndrome.
How to identify functional transcription factors: come up with a null hypothesis and a standard for comparison.
Will increased data sharing lead to more false positives?

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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