Life Lines by Dr. Dolittle

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Considering a cranberry side dish for Thanksgiving? New study shows regular consumption may lower cholesterol and prevent memory loss

Okay, I’ll admit this blog entry has nothing really to do with comparative physiology. I just happen to really like eating cranberry sauce at Thanksgiving and was curious about the benefits of eating cranberries more often. Like many other berries, cranberries are a super-fruit rich in polyphenols and antioxidants that are associated with protecting brain health with aging. On their own they are rather bitter due to the high amounts […]

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Hypoxia gives alligators a big heart: Q&A with Dr. Dane Crossley, University of North Texas

We recently interviewed Dr. Dane Crossley, Professor of Physiology in the College of Biological Sciences at the University of North Texas about the research his laboratory presented at the recent APS Intersociety meeting, Comparative Physiology: From Organisms to Omics in an Uncertain World. The title of his presentation was, “A large heart: How does developmental hypoxia affect individual cardiomyocyte performance in the American alligator, Alligator mississippiensis.” Thank you for taking time […]

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Migratory birds create their own water to prevent dehydration

Migratory birds are amazingly adapted for long-distance flights and can switch the fuels they rely on to support their endurance activities. Unlike humans that burn mainly carbohydrates for endurance exercise, avian flight is fueled mainly by fats and some proteins. In a recent study published in the American Journal of Physiology – Regulatory, Integrative and Comparative Physiology researchers examined how white-throated sparrows (Zonotrichia albicollis) prepared for migration. By altering the […]

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One reason why fish and mammals lose their appetite during stress

I don’t know about you, but sometimes I lose my appetite when I am really stressed. The endocrine system is responsible for controlling our stress responses and involves three main endocrine glands – the hypothalamus, pituitary, and adrenal gland. Hence, the stress pathway is often referred to as the “HPA axis”. When we are stressed, the hypothalamus releases a hormone called corticotropin releasing factor (CRF), which triggers the release of […]

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Arizona physiologists gathered recently for their annual meeting

The Arizona Physiological Society, a chapter of the American Physiological Society, hosted their 15th annual scientific meeting this past weekend! Here are some highlights… The Keynote Address was presented by Dr. Harold D Schultz, Professor in the Department of Cellular and Integrative Physiology at the University of Nebraska. His talk focused on the physiology of heart failure and how the nervous system regulates blood pressure. This year’s Arizona Distinguished Physiologist […]

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Physiology in the Midlands

Fall is an exciting time as many of the chapters of the American Physiological Society host regional conferences. The Midlands Society of Physiological Sciences hosted their annual meeting earlier this month. Here are some highlights from their meeting. Symposia highlights: The meeting was kicked off by a Keynote Lecture presented by Dr. David A Kass from Johns Hopkins University who presented his research on obesity and heart failure. Here is […]

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Ever wonder why humans are attracted to the smell of fatty foods?

There has been a lot of speculation that fast food establishments and bakeries intentionally waft smells that attract customers. I’ll admit I find the smell of cheeseburgers quite tempting. Researchers are seeking to understand what draws humans to the smell of fatty foods in an effort to target those sensations as a way to combat obesity and obesity-related diseases. The approach seems reasonable. If I couldn’t smell a juicy grilled […]

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It’s getting cold outside…what’s a squirrel to do?

As the weather cools down, animals must find ways to stay warm. This is especially important for small animals as they lose body heat faster than larger animals. One way to stay warm is by increasing your metabolism to create body heat, although this process requires a lot of energy. That can be a problem in areas where food may be scarce in the winter. Although some animals, like the […]

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Goldfish learn how to drive and target similar visual cues as humans

Researchers at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev constructed a tank on wheels that goldfish actually learned how to “drive”. Using cameras, the “car” was able to move in the direction the fish swam. They then tested whether the fish could purposefully navigate the car towards a target and observed that the fish could indeed swim towards a target in return for a treat, of course. In a prior study, the […]

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Mice have special ‘jumping genes’ that help them survive viral infections

Researchers at the University of New South Wales (UNSW), Sydney discovered a ‘jumping gene’ that prevents the immune system of mice from overreacting to a viral infection. Jumping genes are movable nucleic acids, or transposable elements, that make up nearly 2/3 of the genome in mammals. They help regulate the expression of genes. Some transposable elements in the genome are new and some originated in ancient times. In the new […]

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