Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Hot off the presses! Jan 01 TRENDS GENET

The Jan 01 issue of the TRENDS GENET is now up on Pubget (About TRENDS GENET): if you're at a subscribing institution, just click the link in the latest link at the home page. (Note you'll only be able to get all the PDFs in the issue if your institution subscribes to Pubget.)

Latest Articles Include:

  • Editorial Board
    - TRENDS GENET 27(1):i (2011)
  • DNA double-strand break repair and the evolution of intron density
    - TRENDS GENET 27(1):1-6 (2011)
    The density of introns is both an important feature of genome architecture and a highly variable trait across eukaryotes. This heterogeneity has posed an evolutionary puzzle for the last 30 years. Recent evidence is consistent with novel introns being the outcome of the error-prone repair of DNA double-stranded breaks (DSBs) via non-homologous end joining (NHEJ). Here we suggest that deletion of pre-existing introns could occur via the same pathway. We propose a novel framework in which species-specific differences in the activity of NHEJ and homologous recombination (HR) during the repair of DSBs underlie changes in intron density.
  • A genomic view of 500 million years of cnidarian evolution
    - TRENDS GENET 27(1):7-13 (2011)
    Cnidarians (corals, anemones, jellyfish and hydras) are a diverse group of animals of interest to evolutionary biologists, ecologists and developmental biologists. With the publication of the genome sequences of Hydra and Nematostella, whose last common ancestor was the stem cnidarian, researchers are beginning to see the genomic underpinnings of cnidarian biology. Cnidarians are known for the remarkable plasticity of their morphology and life cycles. This plasticity is reflected in the Hydra and Nematostella genomes, which differ to an exceptional degree in size, base composition, transposable element content and gene conservation. It is now known what cnidarian genomes, given 500 million years, are capable of; as we discuss here, the next challenge is to understand how this genomic history has led to the striking diversity seen in this group.
  • Blurred boundaries: lifestyle lessons from ectomycorrhizal fungal genomes
    - TRENDS GENET 27(1):14-22 (2011)
    Soils contain a multitude of fungi with vastly divergent lifestyles ranging from saprotrophic to mutualistic and pathogenic. The recent release of many fungal genomes has led to comparative studies that consider the extent to which these lifestyles are encoded in the genome. The genomes of the symbiotic fungi Laccaria bicolor and Tuber melanosporum are proving especially useful in characterizing the genetic foundation of mutualistic symbiosis. New insights gleaned from these genomes, as compared to their saprotrophic and pathogenic cousins, have helped to redefine and shape our understanding of the nature of the symbiotic lifestyle. Here we detail the current state of research into this complex relationship and discuss avenues for future exploration.
  • Evolutionary dynamics of transposable elements in a small RNA world
    - TRENDS GENET 27(1):23-31 (2011)
    Transposable elements (TEs) are selfish elements that cause harmful mutations, contribute to the structure of regulatory networks and shape the architecture of genomes. Natural selection against their harmful effects has long been considered the dominant force limiting their spread. It is now clear that a genome defense system of RNA-mediated silencing also plays a crucial role in limiting TE proliferation. A full understanding of TE evolutionary dynamics must consider how these forces jointly determine their proliferation within genomes. Here I consider these forces from two perspectives – dynamics within populations and evolutionary games within the germline. The analysis of TE dynamics from these two perspectives promises to provide new insight into their role in evolution.
  • Bacterial pathogen evolution: breaking news
    - TRENDS GENET 27(1):32-40 (2011)
    The immense social and economic impact of bacterial pathogens, from drug-resistant infections in hospitals to the devastation of agricultural resources, has resulted in major investment to understand the causes and consequences of pathogen evolution. Recent genome sequencing projects have provided insight into the evolution of bacterial genome structures; revealing the impact of mobile DNA on genome restructuring and pathogenicity. Sequencing of multiple genomes of related strains has enabled the delineation of pathogen evolution and facilitated the tracking of bacterial pathogens globally. Other recent theoretical and empirical studies have shown that pathogen evolution is significantly influenced by ecological factors, such as the distribution of hosts within the environment and the effects of co-infection. We suggest that the time is ripe for experimentalists to use genomics in conjunction with evolutionary ecology experiments to further understanding of how bacteri! al pathogens evolve.

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