Life Lines by Dr. Dolittle

Sponsored by the American Physiological Society

Comparative Physiology

Tardigrades are not so tolerant after all

…at least when it comes to dealing with warming temperatures. In contrast to their reputation for being able to withstand almost any extreme environment (radiation, cold, drought, vaccuum of space), researchers at the University of Copenhagen have found that tardigrades may have an Achilles heal. They appear intolerant of sustained increases in temperature.  Study author Dr. Ricardo Neves was quoted in Science Daily, “The specimens used in this study were […]

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Resisting bird flu

I just read an interesting article from the Max Delbruck Center for Molecular Medicine in the Helmholtz Association that explained why human cells are typically quite resistant to bird flu. Bird flu (H5N1, H7N9, H5N6) does not readily spread between infected humans. In fact, most outbreaks involve only a handful to a few hundred individuals. But, on occasion, the infection can spread more easily leading to a pandemic. New research […]

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Bee sting therapy – revisited

Bee sting therapy has been getting a lot of buzz lately. I have received a lot of questions about applications of so-called apitherapy to conditions other than multiple sclerosis, which we discussed awhile back. Let’s review the more recent evidence… While the practice of apitherapy dates back 5000+ years, only recently has this potential therapy been scientifically investigated. According to a recent review, bee venom has several peptides as well […]

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71 New Species Described in 2019

Scientists at the California Academy of Sciences described 71 new species of plants or animals in 2019. According to the Academy, these included 17 fish, 15 geckos, 8 flowering plants, 6 sea slugs, 5 arachnids, 4 eels, 3 ants, 3 skinks, 2 skates, 2 wasps, 2 mosses, 2 corals, 2 lizards, and a partridge in a pear tree. Okay, just kidding about that last one. Dr. Shannon Bennett, Chief of […]

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Low-calorie sweeteners – harmful or hype?

Researchers at Columbia University wanted to examine whether low-calorie sweeteners disrupt glucose tolerance as there are conflicting reports in both human and animal studies. Their results examining the link between low-calorie sweeteners and glucose regulation in mice are published in the upcoming issue of the American Journal of Physiology – Regulatory, Integrative and Comparative Physiology. In their first experiment, the research team found no differences in glucose tolerance or body […]

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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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How some fish may compensate for low environmental oxygen

     Adult fish rely on gills to extract oxygen from the surrounding water. Larval fish, on the other hand, do not have well-developed gills and instead rely primarily on gas exchange across their skin.      In a new study published in the American Journal of Physiology – Regulatory, Integrative and Comparative Physiology, researchers examined whether larval fish could use their pectoral fins to increase the flow of water […]

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