Life Lines by Dr. Dolittle

Sponsored by the American Physiological Society

Climate Change

Extreme tolerance of dehydration stress

Talk about an extreme animal. During the rainy season annual killifish, Austrofundulus limnaeus, lay eggs that are resistant to droughts. This is an important attribute for a fish that lives in temporary pools of water. The stress-resistant embryos within the eggs literally shut down their metabolism to survive months – possibly years without water. For many fish, exposure to air (and oxygen) can cause profound oxidative stress. Remarkably, this is […]

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Anoxia tolerance in goldfish

The reason mammals are not very good at tolerating hypoxic (i.e. low oxygen) environments, is because the brain relies heavily on oxygen for metabolism. It is so stingy, it uses about 20% of the oxygen in the body to make ATP. Without oxygen, the brain has to rely on glycolysis to make ATP and this process is not good at meeting the energy requirements of the neurons, ultimately resulting in […]

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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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Live fast, die young

Researchers have long known that smaller animals have higher metabolisms and tend to die younger than larger animals. Think about it – a mouse typically only lives about 2 years whereas an elephant in the wild may live 50-70 years, depending on the species. After studying over 700 species of birds and 540 species of mammals, scientists discovered that migratory animals also live faster (mature and reproduce earlier) and die […]

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How a really long winter’s nap can impact sperm production

As winter approaches, hibernating animals will finalize their preparations for taking a ‘long winter’s nap’. These remarkable animals reduce their metabolism to help conserve energy at a time when environmental resources are scarce and considerable energy would otherwise need to be spent on just staying warm. For many species of hibernators, periodically entering this state of torpor allows them to reduce their energy needs by 90% compared to intermittent states […]

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Getting away from salt – the transition to life on land

The transition of vertebrates from the salty ocean to life on land required the ability for these animals to change how they dealt with salt. While salt is essential for many cellular functions, salt balance must be tightly regulated to prevent illness or even death. Animals that live in a salty environment have evolved the ability to get rid of excess salt from their bodies whereas land-dwelling animals evolved the […]

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There it is!

Somali elephant shrews were thought to be extinct until someone caught a glimpse of this little fellow. It is the first sighting of a Somali elephant shrew in 50 years! This adorable creature is actually related to elephants and aardvarks. While they typically eat ants, researchers were able to attract this shrew using oatmeal, peanut butter, and marmite…yum!

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Exploring how temperature impacts the characteristics of animals

We are delighted to speak with Dr. Casey Mueller who is currently an Assistant Professor at California State University San Marcos. Dr. Mueller is a member of the Comparative and Evolutionary Physiology section of the American Physiological Society and was scheduled to present her research at the 2020 Experimental Biology conference last month. Unfortunately, the conference was cancelled due to Covid-19. Her researchappears in the May issue of the FASEB […]

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The Effects of Ocean Acidification on California Sea Hare

Today’s guest blog entry comes from Rebecca Zlatkin. Rebecca ‘Becky’ Zlatkin was born and raised in Miami, FL and recently graduated from the University of Miami with a bachelor’s in Exercise Physiology and a minor in Biology. Previously a student at Miami Dade College’s Honor College, Becky came to the lab of Martin Grosell at UM’s Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science through the Bridge to Baccalaureate Program, a collaboration […]

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Hot Chicks, Cool Dudes: How sex can be shaped by temperature

This guest blog entry was written by the 2020 Dr. Dolittle Award recipient, Rosario Marroquín-Flores, a Biology doctoral student currently studying at Illinois State University. The Dr. Dolittle Award is given to a trainee in the Comparative and Evolutionary Physiology section of the American Physiological Society who submits the best blog entry describing their research project. Congratulations on a well-deserved award for this guest blog:   Hot Chicks, Cool Dudes: […]

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