Division of Nutritional Sciences

312 Savage Hall


Dr. Zhenglong Gu received his Bachelors of Science degree in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology from Peking University in 1998, and his PhD degree in Ecology and Evolution in 2003 from University of Chicago. He conducted his postdoctoral research at Stanford Genome and Technology Center from 2004 to 2006. He became an Assistant Professor in the Division of Nutritional Sciences at Cornell University in 2006.

Dr. Gu's is an evolutionary biologist. With training in both dry and wet labs, he started his own lab at Cornell University by investigating the evolution of aerobic fermentation in yeasts. The similarity between yeast evolution and metabolic changes in human diseases, such as cancers, called his attention to mitochondrion, the metabolic, energetic and signaling hubs of eukaryotic cells. Currently the lab is interested in understanding the role of mitochondrial DNA mutations and variations in human adaptation and diseases.

  • To invent efficient tools to understand mtDNA mutation patterns.
  • To develop mtDNA genetic manipulation tools to investigate the functional consequences of mtDNA mutations.
  • To explore disease prevention and treatment by removing mtDNA mutations.
  • To use mitochondria as a system to investigate environmental adaptation in model organisms and human.

1. Lei R, Ye K, Gu Z, Sun X. Diminishing returns in next-generation sequencing (NGS) transcriptome data. Gene. 2015 Feb 15;557(1):82-7.



2. Barker B, Xu L, Gu Z. Dynamic Epistasis under Varying Environmental Perturbations. PLoS One. 2015 Jan 27;10(1):e0114911. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0114911. eCollection 2015.

3. Zhe Wang, Xuepeng Sun, Yi Zhao, Xiaoxian Guo, Huifeng Jiang , Hongye Li, Zhenglong Gu Evolution of gene regulation during transcription and translation,
Genome Biol Evol. 2015 Apr 14;7(4):1155-67. doi: 10.1093/gbe/evv059.

4. Kaixiong Ye, Chang Cao, Xu Lin, Kimberly O O’Brien, Zhenglong Gu Natural Selection on HFE in Asian Populations Contributes to Enhanced Non-heme Iron Absorption,
BMC Genet. 2015 Jun 10;16:61. doi: 10.1186/s12863-015-0223-y.

5. B Barker, N Sadagopan, Y Wang, K Smallbone, CR Myers, H Xi, J Locasale Z Gu A robust and efficient method for estimating enzyme complex abundance and metabolic flux from expression data. Comput Biol Chem. 2015 Dec;59 Pt B:98-112. doi: 10.1016/j.compbiolchem.2015.08.002. Epub 2015 Sep 1.

6. Billing-Ross P, Germain A, Ye K, Keinan A, Gu Z & Hanson MR. Mitochondrial DNA variants correlate with symptoms in myalgic encephalomyelitis/chronic fatigue syndrome Journal of Translational Medicine. 2016; 14:19. PMID: 26791940 PMCID: PMC4719218

7. Sun, X., Wang, Z., Guo, X., Li, H. & Gu, Z. Coordinated Evolution of Transcriptional and Post-Transcriptional Regulation for Mitochondrial Functions in Yeast Strains. PLoS ONE. 11(4):e0153523 (2016). PMCID: PMC4831757

8. Wang Y, Picard M, & Gu Z. Genetic Evidence for Elevated Pathogenicity of Mitochondrial DNA Heteroplasmy in Autism Spectrum Disorder. PLoS Genetics. 2016; 12(10):e1006391. PMID: 27792786 PMCID: PMC5085253.

9. Zhang R, Nakahira K, Guo X, Choi AM, & Gu Z. Very Short Mitochondrial DNA Fragments and Heteroplasmy in Human Plasma. Scientific Reports. 2016; 6:36097. PMID: 27811968 PMCID: PMC5095883.

10. Kothapalli, K.S., Ye, K., Gadgil, M.S., Carlson, S.E., O'Brien, K.O., Zhang, J.Y., Park, H.G., Ojukwu, K., Zou, J., Hyon, S.S., Joshi, K.S., Gu, Z., Keinan, A. & Brenna, J.T. Positive Selection on a Regulatory Insertion-Deletion Polymorphism in FADS2 Influences Apparent Endogenous Synthesis of Arachidonic Acid. Mol Biol Evol. 33(7):1726-1739 (2016). PMCID:PMC4915354

11. Zhang, R., Wang, Y., Ye, K., Picard, M., Gu, Z. Aging is Independently Associated with Mitochondrial DNA Quality and Quantity in Humans. 2017, BMC Genomics. 18(1):890.

12. Cheng, J., Guo, X., Cai, P., Cheng, X., Piskur, J., Ma, Y., Jiang, H. & Gu, Z. Parallel Evolution of Chromatin Structure Underlying Metabolic Adaptation. Molecular Biology and Evolution, 2017, 34(11):2870-2878.

13. Wang J, Zou H, Chen L, Long X, Lan J, Liu W, Ma L, Wang C, Xu X, Ren L, Gu Z, Li N, Hu X, Zhao Y, Zhao Y. Convergent and divergent genetic changes in the genome of Chinese and European pigs. Sci Rep. 2017 Aug 17;7(1):8662.

14. Si Y, Liu X, Ye K, Bonfini A, Hu XY, Buchon N, Gu Z.Glucomannan Hydrolysate Promotes Gut Proliferative Homeostasis and Extends Life Span in Drosophila melanogaster.J Gerontol A Biol Sci Med Sci. 2018 Sep 25. doi: 10.1093/gerona/gly189.

15. Kothapalli KSD, Park HG, Guo X, Sun X, Zou J, Hyon SS, Qin X, Lawrence P, Ran-Ressler RR, Zhang JY, Gu Z, Brenna JT.A novel FADS2 isoform identified in human milk fat globule suppresses FADS2 mediated Δ6-desaturation of omega-3 fatty acidsProstaglandins Leukot Essent Fatty Acids. 2018 Nov;138:52-59. doi: 10.1016/j.plefa.2018.06.004.

16. Wang Z, Sun X, Wee J, Guo X, Gu Z.Novel insights into global translational regulation through Pumilio family RNA-binding protein Puf3p revealed by ribosomal profiling. Curr Genet. 2019 Feb;65(1):201-212. doi: 10.1007/s00294-018-0862-4.

17. Kraja AT, Liu C, Fetterman JL, Graff M, Have CT, Gu C, Yanek LR, Feitosa MF, Arking DE, Chasman DI, Young K, Ligthart S, Hill WD, Weiss S, Luan J, Giulianini F, Li-Gao R, Hartwig FP, Lin SJ, Wang L, Richardson TG, Yao J, Fernandez EP, Ghanbari M, Wojczynski MK, Lee WJ, Argos M, Armasu SM, Barve RA, Ryan KA, An P, Baranski TJ, Bielinski SJ, Bowden DW, Broeckel U, Christensen K, Chu AY, Corley J, Cox SR, Uitterlinden AG, Rivadeneira F, Cropp CD, Daw EW, van Heemst D, de Las Fuentes L, Gao H, Tzoulaki I, Ahluwalia TS, de Mutsert R, Emery LS, Erzurumluoglu AM, Perry JA, Fu M, Forouhi NG, Gu Z, Hai Y, Harris SE, Hemani G, Hunt SC, Irvin MR, Jonsson AE, Justice AE, Kerrison ND, Larson NB, Lin KH, Love-Gregory LD, Mathias RA, Lee JH, Nauck M, Noordam R, Ong KK, Pankow J, Patki A, Pattie A, Petersmann A, Qi Q, Ribel-Madsen R, Rohde R, Sandow K, Schnurr TM, Sofer T, Starr JM, Taylor AM, Teumer A, Timpson NJ, de Haan HG, Wang Y, Weeke PE, Williams C, Wu H, Yang W, Zeng D, Witte DR, Weir BS, Wareham NJ, Vestergaard H, Turner ST, Torp-Pedersen C, Stergiakouli E, Sheu WH, Rosendaal FR, Ikram MA, Franco OH, Ridker PM, Perls TT, Pedersen O, Nohr EA, Newman AB, Linneberg A, Langenberg C, Kilpeläinen TO, Kardia SLR, Jørgensen ME, Jørgensen T, Sørensen TIA, Homuth G, Hansen T, Goodarzi MO, Deary IJ, Christensen C, Chen YI, Chakravarti A, Brandslund I, Bonnelykke K, Taylor KD, Wilson JG, Rodriguez S, Davies G, Horta BL, Thyagarajan B, Rao DC, Grarup N, Davila-Roman VG, Hudson G, Guo X, Arnett DK, Hayward C, Vaidya D, Mook-Kanamori DO, Tiwari HK, Levy D, Loos RJF, Dehghan A, Elliott P, Malik AN, Scott RA, Becker DM, de Andrade M, Province MA, Meigs JB, Rotter JI, North KE.Associations of Mitochondrial and Nuclear Mitochondrial Variants and Genes with Seven Metabolic Traits.Am J Hum Genet. 2019 Jan 3;104(1):112-138. doi: 10.1016/j.ajhg.2018.12.001.


  • Genomics (minor field), 2009-present
  • Genetics, Genomics & Development, 2008- present
  • Computational Biology, 2008-present
  • Nutritional Sciences, 2006-present

Teaching: I believe the primary goal of teaching at a prestigious academic institution is to provide knowledge and instruction to students, encourage them to fulfill their potential and challenge them to perform above their own expectations. 

Advisory: The primary goals of an advisor are to serve as a mentor to students, and assist them in their pursuit of meaningful educational programs, which is important for fulfilling their life goals. The positive experience for students during their years at Cornell will have a great impact on their future. I have been fortunate to serve as an advisor to many students, and I have performed this role with care.

  • NS2750, Human Biology and Evolution
  • BIOG 4990, Independent Undergraduate Research
  • NS 4010, Empirical Research (Independent Study)
  • NS 6320, Regulation of Macronutrient Metabolism
  • PhD, Ecology and Evolution, University of Chicago, 2003
  • BS, Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, Peking University, China, 1998

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