Life Lines by Dr. Dolittle

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Physiology on the Road

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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Hagfish 101: How to eat a whale from the inside out

The Dr. Dolittle award is given to outstanding graduate students or postdoctoral fellows who are conducting comparative physiology research that they are presenting at the annual Experimental Biology conference. Applicants for the award are asked to submit guest blog posts describing their research. I am very pleased to share this guest blog post from this year’s Dr. Dolittle travel award recipient, Alyssa Weinrauch. Alyssa presented her research today the Experimental […]

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Competition horses calmed by lavender

While lavender aromatherapy has been documented to reduce stress in humans, little is known about its potential for reducing stress in veterinary medicine. Horses can develop elevated heart rates and stress hormone levels when they are confined to horse trailers and transported to new competition venues. Therapies to reduce stress in competition horses are regulated and often prohibit the use of sedatives or oral supplements. Kylie Heitman, an undergraduate student at […]

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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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Experimental Biology 2017 – Day 5

Here are the highlights from the final day of the meeting: Carbon monoxide (CO) is not all that bad: Michael Tift, graduate student at Scripps Institute of Oceanography, described how the body naturally produces CO when red blood cells are broken down and CO can actually be protective against inflammation at low doses. His research was focused on measuring whether species that have more hemoglobin (from living in hypoxic environments) also have […]

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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 4

The August Krogh Distinguished lecture was awarded to Dr. Warren Burggren, who gave a fantastic lecture on epigenetics, or modifications to gene expression. He discussed how epigenetic changes to our genes are reversible. So when a stimulus like hypoxia changes our genes, these epigenetic changes to the genes go away rather quickly when the hypoxic insult is gone, which contrasts genetic mutations that arise from modifications to the genetic code leading […]

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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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