Life Lines by Dr. Dolittle

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Ocean Life

First ever recording of heart rate in free swimming blue whales

While we are on the topic of whales, I found additional research published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences USA on these animals and how their hearts function that I find fascinating. Talk about extreme physiology! Researchers from Stanford University were able to attach surface electrodes to blue whales using suction cups. This allowed them to measure – for the first time – how heart rate changes during […]

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Researchers explore how the largest animals get enough to eat

Ever wonder how baleen whales (Mysticeta) get enough to eat? The mechanism is described for rorqual whales (Balaenopteridae) in a review article published this past October in Physiology. Researchers have found that rorqual whales (ex: blue whales and fin whales), in particular, have an interesting strategy for foraging. The process includes 5 steps that take place in rapid succession (about 20-90 sec total): quick forward lunges toward prey; opening their […]

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Evolving to thrive on land

Scientists Xueping Wang, Deidra M. Balchak, Clayton Gentilcore, Nathan L. Clark, and Ossama B. Kashlan from the University of Pittsburgh are presenting their research today on how sodium channels evolved as animals moved onto land at the 9th Aldosterone and ENaC in Health and Disease: The Kidney and Beyond Conference in Colorado. Sodium channels found in epithelial cells (ENaCs) are very important in regulating salt and water balance especially in the […]

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Researchers from around the world are discussing salt regulation and its role in hypertension and other diseases

The American Physiological Society is currently hosting the 9th Aldosterone and ENaC in Health and Disease: The Kidney and Beyond Conference in Estes Park, Colorado (October 2-6, 2019). The conference is geared towards researchers who are interested in epithelial sodium channels (ENaC) as well as the hormone aldosterone and their roles in kidney function and blood pressure regulation. Epithelial cells are found throughout the body (see table below) and are really important in […]

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Antarctic icefish do not tolerate rising temperatures

Antarctic finfishes may be facing rising ocean temperatures. This is of particular concern to icefishes, as they are not very tolerant of increasing temperatures. Prior studies have shown that this lack of tolerance may be due to an inability for their hearts to beat normally and actually collapse at higher temperatures. In a study presented at the 34th annual Ohio Physiological meeting at Wright State University today, researchers Evans et al., (working […]

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Antibiotic resistance impacting wildlife

Bottlenose dolphins and humans have a lot in common…at least when it comes to developing resistance to antibiotics. After looking at over 700 pathogens collected from 171 wild Bottlenose dolphins captured in the Indian River Lagoon in Florida, researchers discovered that 88.2% of the pathogens were resistant to at least one antibiotic. The pathogens were especially resistant to erythromycin (91.6%) and ampicillin (77.3%). The animals were likely exposed to antibiotics […]

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Did you know just how interesting shark rectal glands could be?

In case you missed Shark Week this year, I thought I would mention a cool fact about dogfish sharks (Squalus acanthias) that you probably did not learn about. I read an interesting article from a lecture given by Dr. John N Forrest Jr, M.D. that was published in 2016 in Transactions of the American Clinical and Climatological Association. Sharks have a complicated system for regulating water and salt balance in the […]

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Animals that eat plastic?

Have you seen this? A video just released by Yellowstone National Park talks about how some heat-loving microorganisms can break down plastics. Pretty cool.   Not so cool was the recent finding published in the Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences that Astrangia poculata coral polyps are eating microplastics instead of brine shrimp eggs…on purpose. In the lab, the team were able to observe the corals consuming nearly […]

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Editor’s picks for 2018

The Editor’s Picks for 2018 have been released for the American Journal of Physiology – Regulatory, Integrative and Comparative Physiology. According to the editorial team, the focus of this journal is on “the regulation of whole organismal function that requires the interplay of multiple organ and tissue systems.” The top comparative physiology articles of 2018 included: An article by Hersh et al., who provided evidence that little skates may be useful […]

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