312 Savage Hall
Ithaca, New York
Division of Nutritional Sciences


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 mutaitons 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. 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

2. 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.

3. 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.

4. 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

5. 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

6. 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.

7. 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.

8. Jiang H, Xu L, Wang Z, Keene J, Gu Z. Coordinating expression of RNA binding proteins with their mRNA targets. Sci Rep. 2014 Nov 24;4:7175.

9. Ye K, Lu J, Ma F, Keinan A, Gu Z. Reply to Just et al.: Mitochondrial DNA heteroplasmy could be reliably detected with massively parallel sequencing technologies. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2014 Oct 28;111(43):E4548-50.

10. Ye K, Lu J, Ma F, Keinan A, Gu Z. Extensive pathogenicity of mitochondrial heteroplasmy in healthy human individuals.Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2014 Jul 22;111(29):10654-9

11. Ahmad KM, Kokošar J, Guo X, Gu Z, Ishchuk OP, Piškur J. Genome structure and dynamics of the yeast pathogen Candida glabrata.FEMS Yeast Res. 2014 Jun;14(4):529-35.

12. Liu, X., Jiang, H., Gu, Z . & Roberts, J.W. High-resolution view of bacteriophage lambda gene expression by ribosome profiling.Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 110:11928-11933 (2013)

13. Shestov, A.A., Barker, B., Gu, Z . & Locasale JW Computational approaches for understanding energy metabolism.Wiley Interdiscip Rev Syst Biol Med. doi: 10.1002/wsbm.1238, (2013)

14. Ye, K. Lu, J., Madhura Raj, S. & Gu, Z . Human expression QTLs are enriched in signals of environmental adaptation ,Genome Biol Evol. 5:1689-1701 (2013)

15. Xu, L., Barker, B. & Gu, Z . Dynamic epistasis for the different alleles of the same gene,PNAS, 109:10420-10425 (2012)

16. Jiang, H., Guo, X., Xu, L. & Gu, Z . Rewiring of post-transcriptional RNA regulons: Puf4p in fungi as an example,Mol Biol Evol. 29:2169-2176 (2012)

17. Stover, P. & Gu, Z .Polymorphism: effect on nutrient utilization and metabolism.Book Chapter,Modern Nutrition in Health and Diseases,(2011)

18. Ye, K. & Gu, Z . Recent advances in understanding the role of nutrition in genome evolution,Advances in Nutrition, 2:486-496, (2011)

  • 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 Unversity, China, 1998