Discover the most talked about and latest scientific content & concepts.

Journal: GigaScience


The MinION™ nanopore sequencer was recently released to a community of alpha-testers for evaluation using a variety of sequencing applications. Recent reports have tested the ability of the MinION™ to act as a whole genome sequencer and have demonstrated that nanopore sequencing has tremendous potential utility. However, the current nanopore technology still has limitations with respect to error-rate, and this is problematic when attempting to assemble whole genomes without secondary rounds of sequencing to correct errors. In this study, we tested the ability of the MinION™ nanopore sequencer to accurately identify and differentiate bacterial and viral samples via directed sequencing of characteristic genes shared broadly across a target clade.

Concepts: DNA, Gene, Genetics, Gene expression, Organism, Virus, Genome, RNA


We are witnessing the great era of genome exploration of the world, as genetic variation in people is being detailed across multiple varied world populations in an effort unprecedented since the first human genome sequence appeared in 2001. However, these efforts have yet to produce a comprehensive mapping of humankind, because important regions of modern human civilization remain unexplored. The Genome Russia Project promises to fill one of the largest gaps, the expansive regions across the Russian Federation, informing not just medical genomics of the territories, but also the migration settlements  of historic and pre-historic Eurasian peoples.

Concepts: Gene, Genetics, Human genome, Human Genome Project, Genome, Africa, Human evolution, Russia


Three-dimensional (3D) imaging mass spectrometry (MS) is an analytical chemistry technique for the 3D molecular analysis of a tissue specimen, entire organ, or microbial colonies on an agar plate. 3D-imaging MS has unique advantages over existing 3D imaging techniques, offers novel perspectives for understanding the spatial organization of biological processes, and has growing potential to be introduced into routine use in both biology and medicine. Owing to the sheer quantity of data generated, the visualization, analysis, and interpretation of 3D imaging MS data remain a significant challenge. Bioinformatics research in this field is hampered by the lack of publicly available benchmark datasets needed to evaluate and compare algorithms.

Concepts: DNA, Molecular biology, Mass spectrometry, Biology, Organism, Chemistry, Dimension, MALDI imaging


The venom of predatory marine cone snails mainly contains a diverse array of unique bioactive peptides commonly referred to as conopeptides or conotoxins. These peptides have proven to be valuable pharmacological probes and potential drugs because of their high specificity and affinity to important ion channels, receptors and transporters of the nervous system. Most previous studies have focused specifically on the conopeptides from piscivorous and molluscivorous cone snails, but little attention has been devoted to the dominant vermivorous species.

Concepts: Central nervous system, Nervous system, Ion channel, Neuroscience, Conotoxin, Conus, Conidae, Radula


The academic publishing world is changing significantly, with ever-growing numbers of publications each year and shifting publishing patterns. However, the metrics used to measure academic success, such as the number of publications, citation number, and impact factor, have not changed for decades. Moreover, recent studies indicate that these metrics have become targets and follow Goodhart’s Law, according to which, “when a measure becomes a target, it ceases to be a good measure.”


The Mediterranean olive tree (Olea europaea subsp. europaea) was one of the first trees to be domesticated and is currently of major agricultural importance in the Mediterranean region as the source of olive oil. The molecular bases underlying the phenotypic differences among domesticated cultivars, or between domesticated olive trees and their wild relatives, remain poorly understood. Both wild and cultivated olive trees have 46 chromosomes (2n).

Concepts: Fruit, Olive, Mediterranean climate, Olive oil, Greece, Mediterranean Basin, Olive leaf, Oleaceae


The ocean sunfish (Mola mola), which can grow up to a length of 2.7 m and weigh 2.3 tons, is the world’s largest bony fish. It has an extremely fast growth rate and its endoskeleton is mainly composed of cartilage. Another unique feature of the sunfish is its lack of a caudal fin, which is replaced by a broad and stiff lobe that results in the characteristic truncated appearance of the fish.

Concepts: Fish, Jellyfish, Ocean, Osteichthyes, Ocean sunfish, Molidae, Bony fish, Mola


Ginkgo biloba L. (Ginkgoaceae) is one of the most distinctive plants. It possesses a suite of fascinating characteristics including a large genome, outstanding resistance/tolerance to abiotic and biotic stresses, and dioecious reproduction, making it an ideal model species for biological studies. However, the lack of a high-quality genome sequence has been an impediment to our understanding of its biology and evolution.

Concepts: DNA, Gene, Biology, Organism, Life, Drosophila melanogaster, Ginkgo biloba, Ginkgo


PLINK 1 is a widely used open-source C/C++ toolset for genome-wide association studies (GWAS) and research in population genetics. However, the steady accumulation of data from imputation and whole-genome sequencing studies has exposed a strong need for faster and scalable implementations of key functions, such as logistic regression, linkage disequilibrium estimation, and genomic distance evaluation. In addition, GWAS and population-genetic data now frequently contain genotype likelihoods, phase information, and/or multiallelic variants, none of which can be represented by PLINK 1’s primary data format.

Concepts: DNA, Gene, Genetics, Statistics, Biology, Genome-wide association study, Genetic linkage, Linkage disequilibrium


The diverse array of phenotypes and courtship displays exhibited by birds-of-paradise have long fascinated scientists and laymen alike. Remarkably, almost nothing is known about the genomics of this iconic radiation. There are 41 species in 16 genera currently recognized within the birds-of-paradise family (Paradisaeidae), most of which are endemic to the island of New Guinea. In this study, we sequenced genomes of representatives from all five major clades within this family to characterize genomic changes that may have played a role in the evolution of the group’s extensive phenotypic diversity. We found genes important for coloration, morphology, feather and eye development to be under positive selection. In birds-of-paradise with complex lekking systems and strong sexual dimorphism, the core birds-of-paradise, we found GO categories for “startle response” and “olfactory receptor activity” to be enriched among the gene families expanding significantly faster compared to the other birds in our study. Furthermore, we found novel families of retrovirus-like retrotransposons active in all three de novo genomes since the early diversification of the birds-of-paradise group, which might have played a role in the evolution of this fascinating group of birds.