Congratulations to the winners of the Editors’ Choice Awards for outstanding articles published in GENETICS in 2019! The journal’s Editorial Board considered a diverse range of articles, finding many papers worthy of recognition. After much deliberation, they settled on one exceptional article for each of the three award categories: molecular genetics, population and evolutionary genetics, and quantitative genetics. Check out some of the best GENETICS had to offer in 2019!


Coupling of Human Rhodopsin to a Yeast Signaling Pathway Enables Characterization of Mutations Associated with Retinal Disease

Benjamin M. Scott, Steven K. Chen, Nihar Bhattacharyya, Abdiwahab Y. Moalim, Sergey V. Plotnikov, Elise Heon, Sergio G. Peisajovich, and Belinda S. W. Chang

Editor’s Note

G protein-coupled receptors (GPCRs) are crucial sensors of extracellular signals in eukaryotes, and direct measurement of GPCR mediated signaling is useful for high-throughput mutational studies; however, this is particularly difficult for the light-activated GPCR rhodopsin. Here, Scott et al. report a fluorescence-based reporter assay in which human rhodopsin is activated in the yeast mating pathway. Their novel yeast-based assay shows similar characteristics as more traditional methods, demonstrating that their engineered yeast strain can be useful in classifying rhodopsin mutants that are consistent with clinical phenotypes.


A Shift in Aggregation Avoidance Strategy Marks a Long-Term Direction to Protein Evolution

Scott G. Foy, Benjamin A. Wilson, Jason Bertram, Matthew H. J. Cordes, and Joanna Masel

GENETICS April 2019 211: 1345–1355

Editor’s Note

The current consensus among biologists is that evolution does not have a direction. Here, Foy et al. compare recently-born gene families to genes that are chronologically “more evolved,” finding a striking directionality in the evolution of the structural properties of proteins, which must balance the need to fold in a functional manner against the need to avoid misfolding. Young genes use a primitive strategy to avoid protein misfolding, while old genes use a much more subtle strategy, suggesting a progressive shift in protein folding strategy over billions of years.


The Genetics of Mating Song Evolution Underlying Rapid Speciation: Linking Quantitative Variation to Candidate Genes for Behavioral Isolation

Mingzi Xu and Kerry L. Shaw

GENETICS March 2019 211: 1089–1104

Editor’s Note

A common component of divergence in mating behavior is the distinctive mating songs of insects, and identifying genes underlying natural variation in acoustic behavior is important for understanding targets of selection during speciation. Here, Xu and Shaw examine the largest quantitative trait locus underlying an interspecific difference in the male mating song of two closely related species of Hawaiian crickets, characterize its genetic and phenotypic effects, and refine its map location. They identify an ion channel gene as a promising candidate underlying behavioral isolation between the two cricket species.