Life Lines by Dr. Dolittle

Sponsored by the American Physiological Society

Environment

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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Importance and dangers of oxygen for air-breathing animals

Although oxygen is essential for air-breathing species and allowed for the evolution of multicellular organisms, it is also a dangerous molecule that can lead to cellular toxicity through the generation of reactive oxygen species (ROS). However, it is important to point out that cellular ROS also play several physiological roles in the body. I just read an interesting review article published in Physiological Reviews that explored natural oxygen delivery and availability […]

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Porcine adaptation to heat stress

  A new study published in American Journal of Physiology – Regulatory, Integrative and Comparative Physiology explored the effects of modest heat stress (35°C, 95°F) on the physiology of pigs. The found that pigs exposed to heat stress ate less than those exposed to ambient temperatures. I understand. I eat less when it is hot outside too. Since skeletal muscle is such a large metabolically active tissue, things that alter muscle metabolism […]

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Time to talk turkey

Just in time for Thanksgiving… While wild turkeys are known to spend time in the snow, I read an interesting article about the effects of cold exposure on livestock during transport. According to the article, nearly all livestock animals are transported at some point in their life, which can be pretty stressful to the animals. In fact, some turkeys lose weight during transport and others do not even make it […]

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Compromising fish

Here’s something to think about. How do fish optimize gas exchange in their gills to efficiently take up oxygen (favoring large, thin, permeable membranes) while at the same time limiting water and ion movement across the surface? If they reduce surface area, then oxygen transfer will be limited, but ions and water transfer will be optimized. What is a fish to do? A new review article published in Physiology discussed how […]

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Alcoholic Fish

As I prepare to leave the great city of New Orleans at the end of a fabulous conference, I can’t help but mention one final poster that I saw titled, “Depressing mitochondrial function during paradoxical anaerobism leads to an alcoholic fish.” It seemed appropriate given our conference hotel was on Bourbon Street. This poster, presented by Dr. Stanley Hillyard (University of Nevada – Las Vegas) examined desert pupfish (Cyprinodon spp). […]

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Improving tissue integrity for transplants

Ground squirrels are known for their remarkable ability to tolerate hypothermic conditions. Humans are not. Dr. JingXing Ou (National Institutes of Health) presented an interesting talk that explored using induced pluripotent neuronal stem cells isolated from these mammalian hibernators to improve tissue integrity for organ transplants. By understanding which pathways protected ground squirrel cells from cold-damage, these pathways could be manipulated in human induced pluripotent neuronal stem cells and improve […]

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