Week in Review: September 8–12

Gut microbiome’s effect on flu vax; new reference genomes for Ashkenazi Jewish population; assessing avian biodiversity across landscapes; gibbon and other newly sequenced genomes

Tracy Vence
Sep 12, 2014

Microbiome as adjuvant

CDC, DEBORA CARTAGENAGut microbes appeared to influence the efficacy of the seasonal flu vaccine in mice through a Toll-like receptor 5 (TLR5)-mediated interaction, a team led by investigators at Emory University in Atlanta showed in Immunity this week (September 12). Patrick Wilson, an immunologist at the University of Chicago who was not involved in the work, said the results point to a natural adjuvant effect of the microbiome.

“It’s a surprise that the gut microbiota, and TLR5 in particular, can modulate the immune response to influenza and unrelated pathogens,” Wilson told The Scientist.

Ashkenazi Jewish genomes

FLICKR, EMMANUEL DYANResearchers at Columbia University and their colleagues have sequenced the genomes of 128 healthy Ashkenazi Jewish people, providing reference sequences for further studies on disease-causing variants and the population’s history. The work was published in Nature Communications this week (September 9).

“With sufficient numbers of samples,...

Bird diversity in forests, on farms

DANIEL KARPCosta Rican forests support more phylogenetically diverse bird populations than do farms in the country, researchers from the University of California, Berkeley, and their colleagues showed in Science this week (September 11), although some farms support more diversity than others. While not entirely surprising, the results suggest that the diversification of agricultural land should be encouraged, said Berkeley’s Daniel Karp, who led the study.

Prior to this study, “what hadn’t been done at all anywhere, to our knowledge, had been looking at the biodiversity in a more evolutionary context,” Karp told The Scientist.

Other news in life science:

Genome Digest (September 10): Gibbon, coffee, chimpanzee malaria parasite, and more

Lasker Winners Announced
This year’s prizes honor pioneering work on the unfolded protein response, deep-brain stimulation, and the discovery of cancer-related genes.

Small Wonders
Sangeeta Bhatia, creator of miniature medical technologies, has won the Lemelson-MIT Prize.

More Skeletons in Gov’t Lab Closets
A search for long-forgotten pathogens at the US National Institutes of Health prompts the discovery of toxins and disease-causing agents.

Australian Court Upholds Patents on Human Genes
The Federal Court of Australia rejected an appeal of a ruling that allows companies to patent isolated human genes.

Supplemental Costs of Retractions
When a scientific paper is withdrawn from the literature it can have a spill-over effect, researchers show.

Peer Review of STAP Work Revealed
Early versions of two now-retracted stimulus-triggered acquisition of pluripotency studies had been rejected before. 

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