Bill Cresko is an expert in evolution, development, genomics and molecular biology. He is a professor of biology and the associate vice president for research. Bill is interested in how the evolution of genes and developmental processes contribute to the amazing diversity of life on earth.
Areas of Expertise (4)
Media Appearances (4)
Schill announces interdisciplinary data science initiative
Around the O online
The University of Oregon is launching a new interdisciplinary initiative in data science and tapping one of its top researchers, biology Professor Bill Cresko, to lead its development.
Researchers publish reference genome of gulf pipefish
Science Daily online
"Comparing the genome with other vertebrate organisms may help scientists learn about basic aspects of human biology, such as how skulls develop and change shape and how the genome that people mostly share with other vertebrates can be tweaked to create new structures, said Susan Bassham, a senior research associate in the lab of UO biologist William Cresko where the research was done..."
UO's Cresko chosen as fellow of world's largest scientific group
Around the O
UO biologist Bill Cresko was quick to spread the thanks. His selection as a 2016 fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, he said, would not have happened without his strong scientific collaborations with others on campus...
New high-performance computing facility nears completion
Around the O
“Just as we’re improving buildings on campus, we’re improving our cyberspaces,” said Bill Cresko, a professor in the Department of Biology and UO’s associate vice president for research. “The high-performance computing facility is designed to be sustainable and will expand and grow and continue to be a resource for our students and faculty engaged in all kinds of research and scholarship.”...
Perchlorate is a ubiquitous environmental contaminant that has widespread endocrine disrupting effects in vertebrates, including threespine stickleback (Gasterosteus aculeatus). The target of perchlorate is thyroid tissue where it induces changes in the organization, activation, and morphology of thyroid follicles and surrounding tissues. To test the hypothesis that some phenotypes of perchlorate toxicity are not mediated by thyroid hormone, we chronically exposed stickleback beginning at fertilization to perchlorate (10, 30, 100 ppm) or control water with and without supplementation of either iodide or thyroxine (T4). Stickleback were sampled across a one-year timespan to identify potential differences in responses to treatment combinations before and after sexual maturation. We found that most thyroid histomorphological phenotypes induced by perchlorate (follicle proliferation, reduced follicle area (adults only), colloid depletion, thyrocyte hypertrophy (subadults only)) were significantly ameliorated by exogenous iodide supplementation. In contrast, treatment with exogenous T4 did not correct any of the thyroid-specific histopathologies induced by perchlorate. Whole-body thyroid hormone concentrations were not significantly affected by perchlorate exposure; however, supplementation with iodide and T4 significantly increased T4 concentrations. This study also revealed an increased erythrocyte area in the thyroid region of perchlorate-exposed adults, while lipid droplet number increased in perchlorate-exposed subadults. Increased erythrocyte area was ameliorated by both iodide and T4, while neither supplement was able to correct lipid droplet number. Our finding on lipid droplets indicates that exposure to perchlorate in early development may have obesogenic effects.
Before genetic approaches were applied in experimental studies with human populations, they were used by animal and plant breeders to observe, and experimentally manipulate, the role of genes and environment on specific phenotypic or behavioral outcomes. For obvious ethical reasons, the same level of experimental control is not possible in human populations. Nonetheless, there are natural experimental designs in human populations that can serve as logical extensions of the rigorous quantitative genetic experimental designs used by animal and plant researchers. Applying concepts such as cross-fostering and common garden rearing approaches from the life science discipline, we describe human designs that can serve as naturalistic proxies for the controlled quantitative genetic experiments facilitated in life sciences research. We present the prevention relevance of three such human designs: (1) children adopted at birth by parents to whom they are not genetically related (common garden approach); (2) sibling designs where one sibling is reared from birth with unrelated adoptive parents and the other sibling is reared from birth by the biological mother of the sibling pair (cross-fostering approach); and (3) in vitro fertilization designs, including egg donation, sperm donation, embryo donation, and surrogacy (prenatal cross-fostering approach). Each of these designs allows for differentiation of the effects of the prenatal and/or postnatal rearing environment from effects of genes shared between parent and child in naturalistic ways that can inform prevention efforts. Example findings from each design type are provided and conclusions drawn about the relevance of naturalistic genetic designs to prevention science.
Evolutionary origins of derived morphologies ultimately stem from changes in protein structure, gene regulation, and gene content. A well-assembled, annotated reference genome is a central resource for pursuing these molecular phenomena underlying phenotypic evolution. We explored the genome of the Gulf pipefish (Syngnathus scovelli), which belongs to family Syngnathidae (pipefishes, seahorses, and seadragons). These fishes have dramatically derived bodies and a remarkable novelty among vertebrates, the male brood pouch.
Next-generation sequencing technology provides novel opportunities for gathering genome-scale sequence data in natural populations, laying the empirical foundation for the evolving field of population genomics. Here we conducted a genome scan of nucleotide diversity and differentiation in natural populations of threespine stickleback (Gasterosteus aculeatus). We used Illumina-sequenced RAD tags to identify and type over 45,000 single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) in each of 100 individuals from two oceanic and three freshwater populations. Overall estimates of genetic diversity and differentiation among populations confirm the biogeographic hypothesis that large panmictic oceanic populations have repeatedly given rise to phenotypically divergent freshwater populations. Genomic regions exhibiting signatures of both balancing and divergent selection were remarkably consistent across multiple, independently derived populations, indicating that replicate parallel phenotypic evolution in stickleback may be occurring through extensive, parallel genetic evolution at a genome-wide scale. Some of these genomic regions co-localize with previously identified QTL for stickleback phenotypic variation identified using laboratory mapping crosses. In addition, we have identified several novel regions showing parallel differentiation across independent populations. Annotation of these regions revealed numerous genes that are candidates for stickleback phenotypic evolution and will form the basis of future genetic analyses in this and other organisms. This study represents the first high-density SNP–based genome scan of genetic diversity and differentiation for populations of threespine stickleback in the wild. These data illustrate the complementary nature of laboratory crosses and population genomic scans by confirming the adaptive significance of previously identified genomic regions, elucidating the particular evolutionary and demographic history of such regions in natural populations, and identifying new genomic regions and candidate genes of evolutionary significance.
Single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) discovery and genotyping are essential to genetic mapping. There remains a need for a simple, inexpensive platform that allows high-density SNP discovery and genotyping in large populations. Here we describe the sequencing of restriction-site associated DNA (RAD) tags, which identified more than 13,000 SNPs, and mapped three traits in two model organisms, using less than half the capacity of one Illumina sequencing run. We demonstrated that different marker densities can be attained by choice of restriction enzyme. Furthermore, we developed a barcoding system for sample multiplexing and fine mapped the genetic basis of lateral plate armor loss in threespine stickleback by identifying recombinant breakpoints in F2 individuals. Barcoding also facilitated mapping of a second trait, a reduction of pelvic structure, by in silico re-sorting of individuals. To further demonstrate the ease of the RAD sequencing approach we identified polymorphic markers and mapped an induced mutation in Neurospora crassa. Sequencing of RAD markers is an integrated platform for SNP discovery and genotyping. This approach should be widely applicable to genetic mapping in a variety of organisms.