Life Lines by Dr. Dolittle

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EB 2022: Adapting to a changing climate

EB 2022 was a fantastic meeting (as usual) for comparative physiology. This meeting marked the last Experimental Biology conference as each society will be hosting their own meetings going forward. I soaked up as much as I could and will be sharing what I learned at the meeting over the coming weeks.

“Predicting Species Physiological Responses to a Changing Climate”

Photo by Ilse Reijs and Jan-Noud Hutten via Wikimedia Commons

The first speaker in this symposium was Dr. Hollie Putnam from the University of Rhode Island. She spoke about how reef corals acclimate and adapt to rapidly changing climates. It was so interesting to learn about the genetic changes that occur in corals in response to warming waters. She saw changes in genes that regulate how DNA is folded, mitochondrial function, as well as heat shock proteins that are so important in regulating responses to a range of stressors, including heat of course.

Photo by South African Institute for Aquatic Biodiversity – via Wikimedia Commons

Dr. Jason Breves from Skidmore College, presented his research on the adaptations fish make when moving between freshwater and saltwater environments. Did you know that fish have prolactin? As the name implies, this hormone is used by mammals to produce milk for offspring. So, what in the world does it do in fish? As it turns out, his research has shown the hormone functions as an osmoregulator that helps the fish adapt to varying salt concentrations in the water. So cool!

Leafcutter bee photo by Bernhard Plank – via Wikimedia Commons

The session was wrapped up by Dr. Kendra Greenlee from North Dakota State University who spoke about her research on the impact of varying environmental temperatures on bees. Her research examined how bees deal will chill injuries in the spring when cold snaps occur as compared to conditions in which temperatures are constant. Interestingly, she found that although females exposed to fluctuating temperatures had fewer offspring, those offspring were larger and more viable than offspring from females exposed to constant temperatures.

References for more information:

JP Breves, EE Popp, EF Rothenberg, CW Rosenstein, KM Maffett, RR Guertin. Osmoregulatory actions of prolactin in the gastrointestinal tract of fishes. General and Comparative Endocrinology. 298: 113589, 2020.

KN Earls, MS Porter, JP Rinehart, KJ Greenlee. Thermal history of alfalfa leafcutting bees affects nesting and diapause incidence. Journal of Experimental Biology. 224(22): jeb243242, 2021.

Categories: Agriculture, Aquaculture, and Livestock, Climate Change, Environment, Ocean Life, Physiology on the Road, Stress

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