Canine genetics, the moon capsule, and biased sports science

Canine genetics, the moon capsule, and biased sports science

Low angle view of dog walker walking six different breed dogs

Researchers have identified genetic variants linked to different canine behaviors.Credit: Paul Bersebach/MediaNews Group/Orange County Registry/Getty

Study finds genetic links to dog behaviors

An analysis that combined behavioral data from 46,000 dogs with DNA sequences from 4,000 dogs identified genetic variants linked to their characteristic behaviors, such as nervousness or aggression (EV Dutrow et al. Cell 185, 4737–4755; 2022).

To trace the genetic origins of behavioral traits, the researchers abandoned conventional breed categories – which had been shown to be a poor predictor of behavior – and sorted the dogs into ten genetic lineages. An analysis of DNA sequences associated with different behaviors has identified a number of variants linked to the development of the nervous system. Herding dogs, for example, possessed genes that, in mice, are associated with the mothers’ instinct to protect their young.

The findings are an exciting advance in understanding relationships between canine lines, says geneticist Elinor Karlsson of Chan Medical School at the University of Massachusetts Worcester.

“It’s starting to go beyond the idea of ​​comparing one breed to another and really looking at how behavior matches the ancestry of dogs,” she says.

NASA's Orion capsule is sucked into the well deck of the USS Portland during splashdown recovery operations.

NASA’s Orion capsule was recovered off Baja California, Mexico on December 11.Credit: Mario Tama/AFP/Getty

NASA’s Orion Moon capsule collapses

NASA’s Orion capsule crashed safely off the coast of Mexico on December 11, ending the first test flight of a new spacecraft designed to bring people back to the moon. Researchers are excited to upload data from the successful 25-day flight to the Moon and back, known as Artemis I.

This accomplishment sets the stage for Orion’s next journey, which will be a loop around the Moon with astronauts on board. But that mission, Artemis II, won’t come until 2024 at the earliest. Artemis III, likely to fly later in the decade, would be a crewed landing at the Moon’s south pole, where researchers want to study ice nestled in shadowy craters.

A set of flight computers on board Orion will now need to be retrieved, analyzed and approved before they can be installed in the capsule that will fly on Artemis II – a crucial step that will take time. Engineers will also collect data from science sensors, such as data on radiation exposure inside the capsule, so Artemis II astronauts can be as safe as possible. “We really can’t wait to see everything we learned from this mission as we prepare for the next one,” said Emily Nelson, chief flight director at Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas.

How Sports Science Is Neglecting Female Athletes

Sports science research is heavily skewed toward male athletes, finds a review of hundreds of sports medicine studies (RW Paul eto speak. A m. J. Sports Med.; 2022). The imbalance leaves large gaps in knowledge about women’s sports and sports-related injuries.

The researchers reviewed 669 studies published between 2017 and 2021 in 6 leading scientific journals. Only 9% of the studies focused exclusively on female athletes, while 71% focused only on male athletes. The most striking comparison was between baseball and softball, with 91% of studies looking at male players and only 5% at female players.

The authors say the disparity could be due to several factors, ranging from financial incentives to the availability of data in public databases and an overrepresentation of male researchers in the field.

SLOW PROGRESS.  The graph shows that while studies of female athletes are increasing, they are still underrepresented.

Source: Ref. 1Source: RW Paul et al. A m. J. Sports Med. (2022)

There has been a slight improvement in recent years, and the proportion of studies that focus only on women or girls or that include both male and female athletes is gradually increasing (see ‘Slow progress’).

A test like this is long overdue, says Willie Stewart, a neuroscientist at the University of Glasgow, UK, who studies concussions. “It reflects the general neglect of women’s sport.”

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