Life Lines by Dr. Dolittle

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Cartilaginous fish need to regulate sulfate too

Seawater contains sulfate concentrations that are nearly 40 times those measured in plasma. Therefore, it is easy to see why fish would need to develop mechanisms to keep sulfate within a physiologically normal range. The kidneys of teleost fish have been known to excrete excess sulfate in the urine. However until now, it was not known whether the kidneys of cartilaginous fish do the same thing as their kidneys are rather complex. In a new […]

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Recap of 2016 Michigan Physiological Society

The Michigan Physiological Society, a chapter of the American Physiological Society, held their 3rd annual meeting last week. As mentioned in a prior post, the keynote address was given by Comparative Physiologist Dr. Hannah Carey (University of Wisconsin School of Veterinary Medicine). You can read about her research in the prior post. Here are other highlights from the meeting: Seminars: or as I prefer to view them… Kelsy Kusch (Undergraduate Student, […]

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Experimental Biology 2016 – Day 4

Still going strong…here are the highlights from several sessions held on Day 4: John Eme (California State University, San Marcos) presented data testing the effects of varying temperatures mimicking overwintering conditions on embryonic development of Lake whitefish. He found that indeed exposure to variable incubation temperatures between 2-8 deg C resulted in increased mortality. Moreover, the embryos hatched earlier and were smaller than animals exposed to constant temperatures. Nariman Hossein-Javaheri et al., (University […]

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Experimental Biology 2016 – August Krogh Distinguished Lecturer: Dr. Jon Harrison

This year’s August Krogh Distinguished lecture, the highest award given to an accomplished Comparative Physiologist from the Comparative and Evolutionary Physiology section of the American Physiological Society was awarded to Dr. Jon Harrison, Arizona State University. Dr. Harrison gave an outstanding seminar in which he reviewed some of his major research discoveries. His work has included examining how insects tolerate various temperatures and how changes in the levels of atmospheric […]

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Experimental Biology 2016 – Day 2

Today was a great day for trainees in comparative physiology! Here are some of the highlights from their sessions: Poster presentations: Alexis MacDonald et al., (Union College – Mentor Dr. Scott Kirkton) presented research showing that grasshopper skeletal muscles may use lactate for energy! Similarly, Dongying Wang et al., (Saint Louis University – Mentor Dr. Daniel Warren) also showed that skeletal muscle from painted turtles may use lactate. I guess it […]

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Heat stress in livestock

With the approach of summer, a timely study was published in the American Journal of Physiology – Regulatory, Integrative and Comparative Physiology on whether inflammation plays a role in heat stress-related complications in muscles. Heat stress is a major problem in the livestock industry. In the United States alone it is reportedly associated with a loss of approximately $158 billion annually in the swine industry. To cool off, swine seek shade and often mud baths […]

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Pesticide confuses bees

A new study conducted by researchers at the University of Guelph found that the use of certain pesticides impacts wildflower pollination by bees. According to a quote by study author Nigel Raine, published in CBCNews, the use of neonicotinoid-type pesticides “modify the way in which information flows through the nervous system.” The research team found that bees gather pollen more frequently, but less efficiently, when exposed to the pesticide compared to […]

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Beware of freezing hearts

Thirteen-lined ground squirrels (Ictidomys tridecemlineatus) are really cute when they hibernate (above). During torpor bouts, their body temperature decreases to a few degrees Celsius and their metabolism drops by as much as 95% with heart rates ranging from only 3-10 beats per minute. These bouts of torpor are interrupted by periodic arousals every couple of weeks during which their metabolism increases as body temperature elevates to 37 degrees Celsius. What is so fascinating is […]

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Spider creates sculptures

Check out this “sculpure” of a spider discovered by Biologist Phil Torres, created by what may be a new species of Cyclosa found in the Peruvian Amazon. This is not just a pattern weaved by the spider into the web, but instead it is created from debris in the forest (dead insects, leaves, etc.). It is believed the spiders use the sculptures to confuse predators. The real spider can be […]

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