Life Lines by Dr. Dolittle

Sponsored by the American Physiological Society

Environment

Researchers discover cause of hearing loss in an underground dweller

Naked mole rats are rather extreme animals in many ways. As underground dwellers, they live in chronically hypoxic environments and are blind. These animals also age more slowly than other mammals and are resistant to developing cancer even though they are long-lived. Did you also know, they are hard of hearing? In a new study published in Current Biology, researchers have discovered the cause of their hearing loss. The inner […]

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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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It’s shark week!! Let’s talk about the spiny dogfish

I am so excited it is finally Shark Week on Discovery Channel! I look forward to this week every year. In honor of Shark Week, I found a neat study published in the American Journal of Physiology – Regulatory, Integrative and Comparative Physiology examining the rectal gland of the spiny dogfish shark (Squalus acanthias). This gland is very important as it allows the animals to get rid of salt (sodium […]

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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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Lactate directly increases breathing

Hypoxic environments increase ventilation in animals. This helps to bring in more oxygen when environmental levels may be limited. With limited oxygen availability, the body turns to anaerobic metabolism, resulting in the production of lactate ions. These ions are known to indirectly stimulate breathing by lowering blood pH and were more recently discovered to directly stimulate the carotid body to increase breathing. For this reason, lactate ions are thought to […]

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Highlights from the last day in Orlando

Today marked the final day of the 2019 Experimental Biology meeting in Orlando. As usual it was a great day for Physiology. Crupi et al., from the University of Messina and the Universita della Magna Grecia in Italy put up a poster presentation describing their research on how red blood cells respond to environmental toxins. Their research showed that isolated red blood cells from rabbits are more sensitive to venoms […]

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Dr. Terrie Williams, 2019 August Krogh Distinguished Lecture

This year’s August Krogh Distinguished Lecture was awarded to Dr. Terrie Williams from the University of California at Santa Cruz. She gave an excellent lecture on her research with dolphins, narwhals and Weddell seals examining their physiological responses to diving, which includes a remarkable ability to reduce heart rate. He current research is aimed at identifying physiological mechanisms that could explain the increasing incidence of cetaceans becoming stranded on beaches […]

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Highlights from EB 2019

There were so many poster presentations on comparative and evolutionary physiology today at the 2019 Experimental Biology conference that it was impossible to see them all. Here are some highlights: Dr. Michael Hedrick from California State University – East Bay, presented his research on African cheetahs (Acinonyx jubatus) examining adaptations that cheetahs have evolved to supply their muscles with oxygen so efficiently, given they maintain the world record for being […]

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Adapting to rising temperatures

In a new review article published in Physiology, Dr. Jonathon Stillman from San Francisco State University explores how populations of animals and humans may respond to increasing frequency of heat waves. According to Dr. Stillman, the past decade has produced some of the hottest years on record, resulting in the loss of human and animal life. Both the length and intensity of these heat waves are expected to increase, which […]

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