Genetics journal names paper led by UO's Cresko as among its Top 10

Bill Cresko

A leading journal covering genetics research has chosen a 2010 paper involving environmentally driven adaptations of genes of a small fish led by the UO's William Cresko as among its Top 10 articles published since its founding a decade ago.

The editors of the journal PLOS Genetics — one of several published by the Public Library of Science under an open-access framework — noted that the selections were made based on the numbers of citations, views, social media sharing and downloads.

The UO paper cited by the journal — and listed second — emerged from a collaborative project between Cresko and his UO colleague Eric Johnson, whose DNA-sequencing technology had led to a UO spinoff, Floragenex, and then declared a "technology to watch" in the Dec. 17, 2010, issue of the journal Science.

The Cresko-led study — covered in a UO news release — documented which regions of genes in ocean-dwelling threespine stickleback evolved to allow some populations of the fish to survive as a freshwater species after being isolated inland in Alaska.

View a video with Cresko that accompanied the 2010 news release

The findings, at the time, were believed to be applicable to ocean-dwelling sockeye salmon and their freshwater counterparts the Kokanee. As the study was presented at professional conferences, similar research efforts involving other organisms exploded around the world and continue today.

"It's very exciting to have our work recognized in this way," said Cresko, associate vice president for research and a professor of biology. "It's great to see how much our work has influenced the field. The journal has published more than 5,000 papers in the last decade, and it's pretty amazing that ours was one of the 10 that they chose."

At the time of the announcement, Cresko was in Sweden, teaching 30 graduate students from around Europe "on how to create and analyze the data in the way that we did in the PLOS Genetics paper." It is his 10th workshop done outside the United States in last five years.

The research, he added, led to a National Science Foundation grant for Cresko's lab to study the genetics of stickleback that have evolved in 50 years since an earthquake uplifted islands in Alaska. Two new papers are moving toward publication in leading journals.