Life Lines by Dr. Dolittle

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Today’s Feature: Midlands Society of Physiological Sciences

October was a great month for physiology! The Midlands Society of Physiological Sciences also held their virtual annual meeting on October 23rd.  Highlights from Oral Presentations: Lucas Wang, undergraduate student at the University of Nebraska – Omaha (in collaboration with Lie Gao, Bryan Hackfort, and Irving Zucker) presented research exploring how upregulating a pathway in skeletal muscle that protects from oxidative stress and inflammation prevented age-related declines in heart and […]

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Featuring: Ohio Physiological Society

This week we are featuring the Ohio Physiological Society. They held their 35th annual meeting September 17-18, 2021. The Ohio Physiological Society is a chapter of the American Physiological Society that was founded in 1986 and brings together physiologists from across the state. Dr. Cynthia Beall, PhD, Distinguished University Professor and Sara Idell Pyle Professor of Anthropology as well as Co-Director of the Center for Research on Tibet at Case […]

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Featuring: Michigan Physiological Society

This week, we are featuring the Michigan Physiological Society. This chapter of the American Physiological Society was established in 2013 and brings together physiologists from around the state of Michigan. Their annual meeting took place June 24-25, 2021, which included a keynote address from Dr. James Pawelczyk, an Associate Professor at Pennsylvania State University and former NASA astronaut. His talk was on the limits of human space exploration. Check it […]

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Birds may stay warm with the help of red blood cells

Researchers at Lund University in Sweden were interested in understanding how birds adapted to cold weather. Birds can’t turn up the heat in their birdhouse, so it is important for them to find physiological ways to stay warm. While they can store body fat and grow more feathers for insulation, metabolism is the primary way endothermic animals create body heat. Mitochondria produce cellular energy (ATP) but can also create heat […]

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Shape-shifting animals adapting to climate change

A recent review of the existing scientific literature found evidence suggesting that warm-blooded animals may be literally shape-shifting to adapt to climate changes. According to Allen’s rule, animals living in warmer climates have larger appendages than those living in cold climates, which helps increase the available surface area for heat loss to the environment. Such heat exchange mechanisms are very important in thermoregulation to avoid retaining excess heat. The authors […]

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Tenrecs may shed light on the evolution of body temperature regulation

The common tenrec (Tenrec ecaudatus) just may be a living representative of ancestral placental mammals and they are very interesting when it comes to body temperature regulation and torpor. Torpor is a complex series of physiological changes that reduce an animal’s physical activity as well as heart, breathing and metabolic rates, which also results in decreases in body temperature than can be as low as their surrounding environment. Many mammalian […]

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High altitude survival and adaptation

Life at high altitude presents unique physiological challenges for organisms that were explored in a recent review published in the American Journal of Physiology – Regulatory, Integrative and Comparative Physiology. For placental mammals, offspring born at high altitude (>2500 m above sea level) typically weigh less at birth compared to lowland animals. Fetal growth restriction is problematic as it is associated with long-term health risks and reduced survival. It is […]

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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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Don’t feed the birds: help stop the spread of a deadly illness

The USGS is investigating a mysterious illness that has resulted in numerous reports of sick or dying birds with crusty swollen eyes (even blindness) and neurological effects such as tremors, inability to stand, and lethargy. The majority of affected birds are juvenile. The illness is rather widespread with reports of sick birds in Washington DC, Maryland, Virginia, West Virginia, Kentucky, Delaware, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Ohio, and Indiana. Since May, diagnostic […]

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