Life Lines by Dr. Dolittle

Sponsored by the American Physiological Society

Agriculture, Aquaculture, and Livestock

Can lobsters lead us to the proverbial ‘Fountain of Youth’?

When thinking about lobsters, some people may think of: Aside from being a favorite menu item, did you know that American lobsters (Homarus americanus) are one of the largest bottom dwelling (i.e. benthic) invertebrate in the ocean? In fact, they seem to be able to grow indefinitely and have been observed to reach over 1 meter in length? For this reason, scientists suspect they may be a rather long-lived species […]

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Q&A with Dr. Jon Harrison, Meredith Johnson, and Jordan Glass

We recently interviewed Meredith Johnson (graduate student), Jordan Glass (graduate student), and Dr. Jon Harrison from the School of Life Sciences at Arizona State University about the research they presented at the 2021 annual Experimental Biology conference.   Q: You mentioned in one of your presentations that insects have an ‘unusual’ respiratory system. Can you explain how it differs from mammals?  Dr. Harrison: Insects exchange gases through blind-ended air-filled tubes called tracheae. There […]

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Hatchling vs the egg – which is a better predictor of growth?

American alligators can grow rather large. In fact, according to the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries, Spanish explorers called these animals “big lizard”, or “el legarto” in Spanish, which explains how they got their name. Hatchlings are typically 8-9 inches long and their growth rate can vary depending on habitat, age, and sex. Female adult alligators can reach about 9 feet in length and 200 pounds in weight whereas […]

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Metabolic costs of reproduction, eating, and increasing temperatures

Planarians are rather cute little flatworms, although they tend to wreak havoc in fish tanks. Researchers have long been fascinated by their ability to regenerate body parts when injured with the help of adult stem cells. More recently, they have gained attention for their ability to survive long periods of time without eating by “degrowing”, i.e. getting smaller but still keeping their shape and functions intact. I would shrink too […]

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The evolution of sugar addiction

I have been opening Christmas cards and pondering the science of sugar addiction, admittedly while snacking on sugar cookies – ‘tis the season after all! Excess consumption of highly palatable (i.e. quite tasty) foods as well as sedentary lifestyles are thought to be at the root of the current obesity epidemic. In fact, it is thought that as many as 30% of people living in developed countries are either overweight […]

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Long sperm, short sperm, fast sperm, slow sperm

I read an interesting review published in Physiology that examined how sperm from different species are especially evolved to help promote fertilization, which if successful, results in the creation of an offspring. It is simply amazing to think of the multitude of ways this process occurs in nature. Take marine invertebrates and fish for example. These animals release eggs and sperm into the water. In contrast, fertilization happens internally in […]

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Avian red blood cells produce hydrogen sulfide to maintain cell integrity and longevity

Birds have strange red blood cells, at least in comparison to mammals. While they both are responsible for transporting oxygen molecules throughout the body, avian red blood cells have mitochondria and a nucleus. Mammalian red blood cells, on the other hand, are missing a nucleus as well as organelles. By eliminating these structures, mammalian red blood cells are able to carry more oxygen molecules and fold more easily to fit […]

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What’s the buzz about bees?

We are excited to share the following interview with Dr. Lizzette Cambron, an NSF Graduate Fellow working in Dr. Kendra Greenlee’s laboratory at North Dakota State University. Dr. Cambron was scheduled to present her research at the 2020 Experimental Biology conference last month in a Comparative and Evolutionary Physiology session hosted by the American Physiological Society. As with many conferences, the meeting was cancelled due to Covid-19.  She has agreed […]

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Developing Pacific molluscs produce their own carbohydrates

Animals that develop within an egg, must rely on the egg yolk for nutrition for healthy development. While we have known that proteins and fats in the egg are important for development, the role of carbohydrates in the development of molluscs is a bit vague. A new study published in the American Journal of Physiology – Regulatory, Integrative and Comparative Physiology examined the role of carbohydrates in the development of Pacific […]

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Importance of feeding chicks shortly after hatching

While egg yolks are rich in lipids, chicks consume mainly carbohydrates after hatching. This ability to switch between using nutrients provided by the mother in the egg and those the chick must acquire from the environment is important for the normal growth and metabolism of the birds after hatching. Delayed access to foods after hatching can therefore have long term effects on the animals. Transport of animals from hatcheries to […]

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