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  • Writer's pictureAbigail LaBella

Catching up on LaB(ella) publications

The past few months have seen multiple publications from the LaBella lab members. Check them out below!

Mitochondria of Aspergillus ->

In November the manuscript Evolution and codon usage bias of mitochondrial and nuclear genomes in Aspergillus section Flavi was published in G3. This project was led by a stellar Vanderbilt undergraduate student Miya Hugaboom who was mentored by PhD candidate Anne Hatmaker in the lab of Dr. Antonis Rokas.

This manuscript assembled mitochondrial genomes from fungal species in the Aspergillus section. This group contains Aspergillus fumigatus - one of the World Health Organizations Critical Priority Group of fungal pathogens. Assembling and analyzing the mitochondrial genomes of Aspergillus species will help us understand why some species in this group are serious pathogens, while others go about their business not bothering us mammals.

Next up was the evolutionary analysis of over 800 Genome-Wide Association Studies (GWAS). In this work Dr. Abin Abraham and Dr. Abbe LaBella created an evolutionary atlas of the selective forces acting on genomic regions associated with human complex traits. (Whew! that's a mouth full)

Everything we see in life today is a product of a long history of evolution. A better understanding of this history can help us learn about important human traits like diseases that have a genetic component. For example, lactose-persistence (the opposite of lactose intolerance) is a genetic trait associated with human populations that used milk as a nutrient source into adulthood.

We analyzed GWAS conducted on a WIDE array of traits (see the word cloud below!) In the manuscripts we find some patterns of evolution associated with specific traits. We also have made the evolutionary analyses for each of the GWAS publicly available to you!

Preterm birth -> As a part of the Ohio Collaborative Prematurity Research Center sponsored by the March of Dimes, Dr. LaBella has collaborated with a diverse team studying the causes and consequences of preterm birth. This connected Dr. LaBella with Dr. Bo Jacobsson, a leading researcher in obstetrics at the University of Gothenburg. Dr. Jacobbson and his team conducted a recent study to identify the maternal and fetal genetic contributions to preterm birth.

Dr. LaBella conducted an evolutionary analysis to identify what selective forces may be shaping the genetic variation that contributes to this trait. Similar to our previous findings, there were many different evolutionary forces shaping genetic regions that contribute to sPTB. This indicates that these regions may be pleiotropic and subject to selection acting on many different traits.

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