Life Lines by Dr. Dolittle

Sponsored by the American Physiological Society

Comparative Physiology

Dealing with the cold

Cold-tolerant insects have developed several strategies for dealing with cold temperatures. A new study published in the American Journal of Physiology – Regulatory, Integrative and Comparative Physiology explored how spotted wing drosophila (Drosophila suzukii), in particular, adapted physiologically to cold exposure. They discovered that animals adapted to living in the cold had altered the structure of their cellular membranes in ways that kept the membrane fluid and prevented it from becoming rigid. Moreover, […]

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Rising water temperatures masculinizes Nile tilapia

Nile tilapia, Oreochromis niloticus, is a species of freshwater fish native to Egypt and Africa. Global warming has the potential to significantly impact this species as water temperatures above 32 to 36.5 degrees Celsius can induce young fish (10-30 days after fertilization) that are genotypically female to become masculinized. Moreover, a recent study published in PLOS ONE showed that some young fish choose to visit warmer waters. A new study published […]

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Chronic stress impacts everyone around us

A new study examined how our stress impacts our best friend’s mental health.  The researchers studied Shetland sheepdogs, border collies and their owners and found that dogs living with people who had high levels of stress hormone (cortisol) in their hair follicles, similarly had high levels of cortisol in their fur. In contrast, canine anxiety does not appear to run off on people. That’s good news for those of us […]

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Misery loves company

A new study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences shows that ravens appear to share negative emotions. The researchers started with offering birds two boxes placed on the left and right sides of the animals. While one box was empty, the other contained a piece of cheese (yum!). They then placed a box in a new location and examined how the birds responded. If a bird acted […]

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Blood flow shifts during diving

In many mammals exposure to hypoxic conditions results in the release of a vasodilator called nitric oxide, which improves blood flow and protects oxygen delivery to tissues throughout the body. Diving animals appear to be unique in that some of their blood vessels stay constricted while they are diving even though they experience hypoxia. A new study published in the American Journal of Physiology – Regulatory, Integrative and Comparative Physiology explored […]

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Working towards prolonged spaceflight

Spaceflight has always fascinated me. While long distance spaceflight looks so routine in science fiction shows, the reality is much different as we have yet to conquer the complications surrounding long duration deep-space flight. One issue is how to feed astronauts traveling long distances as we do not yet have replicator technologies. If we did, I would have coffee whenever I wanted it. In a new article published in Physiology, […]

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Growth restriction in utero increases risk for developing insulin resistance

  A new study published in the American Journal of Physiology – Regulatory, Integrative and Comparative Physiology, explored how restricted growth of a fetus during pregnancy can lead to insulin resistance later in life. They studied this risk factor in guinea pigs as larger litter sizes are known to restrict the growth of developing fetuses. Findings from the study showed that neonatal guinea pigs grow rapidly after birth to compensate for […]

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