What we're reading: The color of cichlids, projected genomes, and simplifying NSF proposals

In the journals
Albertson RC, KE Powder, Y Hu, KP Coyle, RB Roberts, and KJ Parsons. 2014. Genetic basis of continuous variation in the levels and modular inheritance of pigmentation in cichlid fishes. Molecular Ecology, 23: 5135–5150. doi: 10.1111/mec.12900.

… we crossed two divergent cichlid species to generate an F2 mapping population that exhibited extensive variation in pigmentation levels and patterns. Our experimental design is robust in that it combines traditional quantitative trait locus (QTL) analysis with population genomics, which has allowed us to move efficiently from QTL interval to candidate gene. In total, we detected 41 QTL and 13 epistatic interactions that underlie melanocyte- and xanthophore-based coloration across the fins and flanks of these fishes.

Yang MA, K Harris and M Slatkin. 2014. The projection of a test genome onto a reference population and applications to humans and archaic hominins. Genetics, doi: 10.1534/genetics.112.145359.

We introduce a method for comparing a test genome with numerous genomes from a reference population. … Using analytic theory, numerical analysis, and simulations, we show how the projection depends on the time of population splitting, the history of admixture and changes in past population size.

In the news
“So here’s an idea: what if NSF preproposals were the proposals? After all, one way to encourage reviewers to focus on the big ideas rather than picky methodological details is to not provide them with any methodological details in the first place.”

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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