Life Lines by Dr. Dolittle

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Comparative Physiology

Featuring: Ohio Physiological Society, Part 3

Granted the following topics are not comparative physiology research, I think they are certainly worth mentioning: Sayani Bhattacharjee, a graduate student at The University of Toledo, presented research on a novel way to overcome drug resistant prostate cancer, at least in cancer cells. A common treatment for prostate cancer is to block androgens. The problem with this treatment is that nearly all patients become resistant to the treatment. Fingers crossed […]

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Oddity of mammalian red blood cells

Mammalian red blood cells do not have a nucleus, which is different from birds, amphibians, reptiles, and fish (see image above). Many textbooks report that the absence of a nucleus provides room for more hemoglobin within the cells, which is important to fuel the relatively high metabolic rates of mammals. Hemoglobin is an important oxygen-binding molecule that allows the red blood cells to transport oxygen to tissues throughout the body […]

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Extreme Physiology of Diving

Can you imagine what would happen to your body if you dove up to 1700 meters deep in the ocean for an hour and a half, or experienced months of food deprivation? In the case of deep diving, the high pressure causes the collapse of the lungs of terrestrial mammals (including humans!) and depletion of body oxygen stores, whereas long fasting periods compromise health and induce muscle wasting. Northern elephant […]

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2021 August Krogh Distinguished Lectureship

The August Krogh Distinguished Lectureship is the highest award given by the Comparative and Evolutionary Physiology section of the American Physiological Society. As the name implies, it is awarded to a distinguished physiologist who has made major and meritorious contributions to the field. This year’s August Krogh Distinguished Lecture was awarded to Dr. Ken Olson, Emeritus Professor, Indiana University School of Medicine – South Bend. His talk at the Experimental […]

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Day 1: Experimental Biology 2021

I attended a really great session this afternoon on the Evolutionary Physiology of Locomotor Behavior: Causes, Consequences, and Mechanisms.   The session started with a talk by Dr. David Raichlin from the University of Southern California who spoke about locomotion from a human perspective. He described how locomotion is not only essential for the survival of species, but also provides benefits for the aging brain. It was fascinating to learn […]

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Staying warm on a chilly day

Giant panda bears have a very unusual trick to staying warm. This unusual behavior was first noted by scientists at the Chinese Academy of Sciences in Beijing who observed a giant panda rolling around in horse manure in the Qinling mountains in central China during the winter of 2007. To see whether this was just a rogue panda or a more common behavior, scientists set up camera traps and observed […]

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New study may help shed light on avian diversity

An international team of scientists have characterized the genome of 363 species of birds representing 92.4% of avian families. 267 of these species were newly released sequences as part of the Bird 10,000 Genomes (B10K) Project. The goal of this project is to find both similarities as well as unique genome variations among lineages of birds that might contribute to their amazing biodiversity. The study also confirmed that the common […]

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Why being ‘bird-brained’ may actually be a compliment

It has long been suspected that birds (and reptiles) were not very smart because they lack a neocortex – the part of the brain that is responsible for working memory, perception, problem solving, and conscious thought in mammals. In stark contrast to this idea, studies have repeatedly shown that several species of birds have very good memories as well as planning and problem solving skills (see examples below), which has […]

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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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Defining Comparative Physiology

Today I interviewed Mr. Anthony J. Basile from Arizona State University who is working in the laboratory of Dr. Karen Sweazea. Anthony is a nutritionist and a third-year evolutionary biology PhD student whose research focuses on nutrition-related disease. He was scheduled to present his study at the 2020 Experimental Biology conference in San Diego last month. As with many plans these days, the conference was cancelled due to Covid-19. Can […]

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