Research Roundup: October 2020


Here are summaries of a selection of the papers published by GCB faculty in October 2020:


Greg Wray and team used statistical methods they developed to identify adaptive changes that arose in the SARS-CoV-2 genome in humans, but not in closely related coronaviruses found in bats and pangolins to help figure out what makes the virus so unique. Read more

Neil Surana was part of a team that profiled the lung and colon trascriptome and lung proteome of nine patients who died of COVID-19 during the first wave of the pandemic in Wuhan, China. Their research provided molecular insights into the host response to severe SARS-CoV-2 infection. Read more


Raluca Gordân and team has found that transcription factors have a tendency to bind strongly to “mismatched” sections of DNA, sections of the code that were not copied correctly. The strong binding of transcription factors to mismatched sections of regulatory DNA might be a way in which random mutations become a problem that leads to disease, including cancer. Read more


Quantifying how microbes grow in response to stress is required for effective treatment of microbial infections, food safety, and understanding the effects of environmental change. Amy Schmid and team developed a new statistical method freed from the assumption of optimum growth. This model also properly corrects for experimental variability, enabling researchers to monitor, quantify, and understand how microbial growth changes in response to gradations of stress. Read more


Ocean acidification can impact reproduction, development and physiology of marine invertebrates. Greg Wray and team used transcriptomic analyses of the response to ocean acidification at three life history stages – embryos, larvae and metamorphosing juveniles – in the sea urchin Heliocidaris erythrogramma. Read more

Lawrence David, John Rawls and team investigated whether short-chain fatty acids are produced in the zebrafish intestine, and if the anti-inflammatory effects and sensing of short-chain fatty acids are conserved in zebrafish. Read more


Using data from 807 members of the Dunedin Longitudinal Study, Avshalom Caspi, Terrie Moffitt and team investigated associations between cardiovascular fitness and structural brain integrity at age 45, and the extent to which associations reflected possible neuroselection or neuroprotection by controlling for childhood IQ. Read more 


John Rawls and team review insights from mice and other vertebrate models into the transcriptional regulatory mechanisms underlying intestinal epithelial identity and microbial responsiveness. Read more