Life Lines by Dr. Dolittle

Sponsored by the American Physiological Society

Extreme Animals

Meet the star (nosed) of the show

Dr. Kenneth Catania from Vanderbilt University presented his work with star-nosed moles at the Experimental Biology meeting last month in Chicago. These animals are really cool. Here are some facts from Dr. Catania about these crazy-looking creatures you may not know: If participating in a bug-eating contest, they would win hands down every time because they are the fastest-eating mammal known. In fact, they can identify and consume a bug in a record […]

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Guest Blog: Liver genes of Cope’s gray treefrog provide clues to low temperature and freezing

Dr. Clara do Amaral is a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Dayton in Ohio where she studies freeze tolerance in frogs. She received a Research Recognition Award from the Comparative and Evolutionary Physiology section of the American Physiological Society at the 2017 Experimental Biology meeting in Chicago, IL. She prepared this award-winning guest blog entry to describe her interesting research: The Cope’s gray treefrog is a small frog that occurs in […]

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Experimental Biology – Day 3

Highlights from today’s sessions included: Norelia Ordonez-Castillo, undergraduate student from Fort Hays State University, presented her research on channel catfish. According to Norelia, these fish can become obese so her research was geared towards trying to find out how their receptor for LDL cholesterol differs from rodents and humans. But what I want to know is whether the obese catfish tastes better… Christine Schwartz, Investigator from University of Wisconsin-La Crosse, studied how […]

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Experimental Biology – Day 2

Yesterday was a great day for comparative physiology! Highlights from the seminars on comparative physiology: Melissa Reiterer, graduate student from Florida Atlantic University, presented her research on how freshwater turtles (Trachemys scripta) survive for long periods of time without oxygen and do not develop oxidative stress after oxygen is restored. The turtles are able to do this by creating their own antioxidants as well as eliminating oxidative stress. In contrast, mammals including humans, develop […]

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Secrets to Longevity

A new article published in Physiological Reviews compared some remarkable similarities and differences between naked mole rats and humans. Both are relatively long-lived, highly social and have low natural selection pressures. But, this is about all they have in common. While humans are prone to developing age-related cancer, diabetes, heart disease and dementias, naked mole rats are rather resistant to these diseases. Instead, naked mole rats appear to maintain a youthful […]

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Researchers discover new genes that protects water bears when they dry out

Water bears, aka tardigrades, are resilient little creatures. These microscopic animals can survive both freezing and boiling temperatures, radiation, high pressure, starvation, the vacuum of space and even desiccation. This last ability caught the attention of a team of researchers interested in how they are able to survive for years despite being completely dried out, an ability known as anhydrobiosis. Video by Daiki D. Horikawa, via YouTube. The team discovered special genes that […]

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Fluorescent frogs

A new article published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences presents the discovery of a species of frog with fluorescence. The South American polka dot tree frog, aka Hypsiboas punctatus is already rather cute under normal light. But when exposed to UV light, this frog really shines. It gets its glowing personality from fluorescent molecules, hyloin-L1, L2 and G1, found in the skin, lymph tissues, and secretions from glands. These molecules have not been found in […]

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Komodo dragons have antibacterial blood

Researchers studying komodo dragons (Varanus komodoensis) at George Mason University discovered 48 previously unknown peptides in their blood that might have antimicrobial properties. Their findings were published in the Journal of Proteome Research. For the largest lizard, these peptides may help prevent the animals from getting infections from their own saliva, which is host to at least 57 species of bacteria. With this number of bacteria, it is easy to understand why they evolved so many […]

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Camouflage in motion

Cuttlefish (Sepia officinalis) are masters of camouflage. Being able to mimic their surroundings helps them hide from predators. But how do they maintain their camouflage while moving through complex environments, such as coral reefs, sea grass, and varying light patterns? A new study published in Frontiers in Physiology examined this question. They wanted to know how small an object in the environment could be for the cuttlefish to still mimic it quickly enough while moving. What […]

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