Biology Research News

This page features brief profiles of both recent and ongoing research by Amherst College's faculty and students in Biology.

Please see the Biology Research News Archives page for older entries.


Graf Lab: Mutational Analysis of Rab3 Function for Controlling Active Zone Protein Composition at the Drosophila Neuromuscular Junction

 Recent Publication

Shirui Chen, Hannah K. Gendelman, John P. Roche, Peter Alsharif, & Ethan R. Graf PLoS One, 28 August 2015, 10:e0136938


Graf Chart 1

Rab3 plays a novel and unexpected role that controls synapse development. How does it do this?

We find that even though the role is new, the general function is conserved. Rab3 likely controls active zone development via a vesicle docking mechanism that is consistent with standard Rab protein function.

 Graf Chart 2

Hood Lab: Variation in mate-recognition pheromones of the fungal genus Microbotryum

Recent Publication

Lucy Xu, Elsa Petit, Michael E. Hood. HEREDITY August 2015:online early doi: 10.1038/hdy.2015.68

Fungi often recognize mating partners by the reciprocal exchange of pheromones.

We show that reciprocal pheromones & receptors can co-evolve at different rates. Different rates of co-evolution might reflect the contrasting roles of mating types during the conjugation process, as initiators versus responders

Hood Lab: Variation in mate-recognition pheromones of the fungal genus Microbotryum 

Clotfelter Lab: "Guanine-Based Structural Coloration as an Indicator of Oxidative Stress in a Cichlid Fish"

In Press


Matthew D. Cahn ‘13, Alexandria C. Brown and Ethan D. Clotfelter. Guanine-based structural coloration as an indicator of oxidative stress in a cichlid fish. Journal of Experimental Zoology, in press.

 "We used a novel approach to measure structural coloration in a fish and found that structural coloration can be condition-dependent and indicative of environmental stress."


2 April 205 TLR


Purdy Lab: “The Acetate Switch of an Intestinal Pathogen Disrupts Insulin Signaling and Lipid Metabolism"

Recent Publication

Purdy Research PhotoSaiyu Hang, Alexandra E. Purdy, William P. Robins, Zhipeng Wang, Manabendra Mandal, Sarah Chang, John J. Mekalanos, and Paula I. Watnick. The acetate switch of an intestinal pathogen disrupts insulin signaling and lipid metabolism. Cell Host & Microbe. November 12, 2014.

Vibrio cholerae unexpectedly manipulates host metabolism and virulence by controlling acetate levels in the GI tract via the CrbRS signal transduction system.

30 Jan 2015 TLR


McGuire Life Sciences Building