Life Lines by Dr. Dolittle

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Environment

Hypoxia and anoxia and reoxygenation, Oh my!

There are many examples of animals that can naturally tolerate hypoxic and anoxic conditions without exhibiting pathologies associated with reoxygenation. Here are a few examples from this year’s conference: Dr. Anthony Signore (University of Nebraska) spoke about how some hypoxia tolerant animals can use carbon monoxide, you know that gas we think of as poisonous, to improve oxygen binding to hemoglobin in hypoxic conditions. Well known for their ability to […]

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How Animals Deal with Stress

  Victor Zhang (Graduate Student working with Dr. Loren Buck at Northern Arizona University) gave an interesting talk on his research to measure stress and activity patterns in free living arctic ground squirrels. They found overall that females were less stressed than males although stress levels and activity varied during lactation. I think some human mothers can agree with those observations. Oliver Wearing (Graduate student working with Dr. Graham Scott […]

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Physiology in Arizona – Part 2

Now for highlights from the Arizona Physiological Society poster session that took place on October 5th. Alex Mohr (Graduate Student, Arizona State University – Phoenix) presented his research on dietary carotenoids, which are yellow, orange and red pigments synthesized by plants. Birds are known for using these dietary carotenoids for coloration (see the male mallard in the photo above). While some research suggests that carotenoids may also act as antioxidants in […]

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Physiology in Arizona – Part 1

This past weekend the Arizona Physiological Society held their 11th annual conference on the Tempe campus of Arizona State University. There were so many oral and poster presentations on comparative physiology that I will spend this entry focusing on the oral sessions. The Keynote address was given by Dr. Michael Joyner (Mayo Clinic, Rochester) who spoke about the importance of not just focusing research efforts on reductionist approaches, including many […]

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Ohio is talking about fixing broken hearts, the physiology of freezing, combating opioid addiction and more

The Ohio Physiological Society held their 33rd Annual Meeting at the University of Cincinnati this weekend. The keynote address was given by Dr. Mark Sussman from San Diego State University. He spoke about current research strategies that aim to improve the ability for the heart to repair itself after heart failure. Dr. Perwez Alam (University of Cincinnati) also spoke about using siRNA to try to repair heart tissue after heart attacks and […]

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New study shows mussels are “hot and bothered”

Freshwater organisms are especially vulnerable to environmental changes as they are exposed to both atmospheric changes as well as run-off from nearby cities; in particular, rising temperatures and increasing carbon dioxide levels from both natural factors (rainfall, geology, etc) as well as human influence (deforestatin, agriculture, urbanization). For example, studies of rivers around the world have found that carbon dioxide levels vary from 647 – 38,000 µatm. Higher levels are […]

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Sleep vs torpor

  I read an interesting review article published in Physiology comparing the low metabolic states of non-rapid eye movement sleep (NREM) and torpor. According to the article, all mammals experience NREM sleep patterns during which energy expenditure is decreased and body as well as brain temperatures decline. Animals that experience torpor (hummingbirds, arctic ground squirrels, some mice, bears, etc) have reduced metabolic rates and body temperatures that dip below baseline. NREM […]

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Brine shrimp tolerance of environmental changes

Brine shrimp, Artemia franciscana, are neat little aquatic crustaceans. According to the University of Utah, these tiny creatures grow to about 1cm in length. They are a favorite meal choice of some migratory birds and they are often sold for use as food for fish destined for human consumption. Christopher Melendez, a graduate student in the lab of Dr. Casey Mueller at California State University San Marcos, presented his research on brine […]

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Environmental impact on physiology

Several of the comparative physiology posters and talks presented at the Experimental Biology conference today focused on the impact of environmental changes on the physiology of animals. Here are some highlights: Rachel Heuer, a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Miami working with Dr. Martin Grosell, examined the effects of crude oil on heart function in mahi-mahi. As the Deepwater Horizon spill occurred when these fish were spawning, it is […]

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