Audrey Gasch

Credentials: Genetics Department

Position title: Elucidating the role, regulation, and evolution of eukaryotic stress responses


All organisms must be able to sense and respond to their environment and defend themselves against environmental stress. Cells respond to acute environmental stress by mounting a multi-faceted cellular response that typically includes coordinated changes in transcription and translation, protein function, and metabolic fluxes, along with transient arrest of growth and cell cycle progression. How these disparate physiological processes are coordinated is poorly understood but likely critical for surviving and acclimating to stressful conditions.

The Gasch Lab uses modern techniques in comparative and functional genomics, computational and systems biology, and genetics and molecular biology to study how cells sense their environment, detect when there is a problem, and then coordinate a multi-faceted response to protect themselves. We study these topics in the budding yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae as a model for basic biology. Because defects in sensing and responding to cellular stress are linked to many human diseases, and because much of yeast physiology is similar to human cells, our research is generating important insights into how normal cells function and when problems cause disease.

We are also interested in the relationship between genotype and phenotype, and how environmental responses evolve in natural populations. We study these questions at a mechanistic level in wild isolates of budding yeast. We also leverage evolution and natural diversity to engineer new traits aimed at producing sustainable and economical biofuels from cellulosic materials. As part of the DOE-funded Great Lakes Bioenergy Research Center (GLBRC), our lab is addressing critical bottlenecks in microbial fuel and chemical production.