Life Lines by Dr. Dolittle

Sponsored by the American Physiological Society

Reproduction and Development

Grappling with gravidity

In humans, pregnancy can be an uncomfortable time as the growing fetus makes it more difficult to breathe. It can also become more difficult for the expectant mother to get around. It may be surprising to find out that grasshoppers may develop similar issues when they are ‘expecting’. In fact, a gravid grasshopper can carry an egg mass that makes up as much as 40% of their weight! Could you […]

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And a Happy New….Kidney!

Spiny mice (Acomys cahirinus) are amazing animals. For starters, they are reportedly one of the only known species to date, in addition to primates, that menstruate (McKenna et al., 2021). They are also capable of regenerating skin tissue, complete with hair follicles and blood vessels without scarring, after an injury (Siefert et al., 2012). This is an important skill for animals that escape predators by shedding their skin. Add to […]

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Featuring: Ohio Physiological Society

This week we are featuring the Ohio Physiological Society. They held their 35th annual meeting September 17-18, 2021. The Ohio Physiological Society is a chapter of the American Physiological Society that was founded in 1986 and brings together physiologists from across the state. Dr. Cynthia Beall, PhD, Distinguished University Professor and Sara Idell Pyle Professor of Anthropology as well as Co-Director of the Center for Research on Tibet at Case […]

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How infections can change milk composition

Lipopolysaccharides (LPS) are found on the outer cell membrane of Gram-negative bacteria. When these bacteria break down, the LPS can enter the body and cause inflammation and negatively impact health. They can also disrupt the blood-milk barrier and may alter the composition of milk. In a new study published in the American Journal of Physiology – Regulatory, Integrative and Comparative Physiology, researchers wanted to know whether LPS could change the […]

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High altitude survival and adaptation

Life at high altitude presents unique physiological challenges for organisms that were explored in a recent review published in the American Journal of Physiology – Regulatory, Integrative and Comparative Physiology. For placental mammals, offspring born at high altitude (>2500 m above sea level) typically weigh less at birth compared to lowland animals. Fetal growth restriction is problematic as it is associated with long-term health risks and reduced survival. It is […]

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Q&A with Dr. Jon Harrison, Meredith Johnson, and Jordan Glass

We recently interviewed Meredith Johnson (graduate student), Jordan Glass (graduate student), and Dr. Jon Harrison from the School of Life Sciences at Arizona State University about the research they presented at the 2021 annual Experimental Biology conference.   Q: You mentioned in one of your presentations that insects have an ‘unusual’ respiratory system. Can you explain how it differs from mammals?  Dr. Harrison: Insects exchange gases through blind-ended air-filled tubes called tracheae. There […]

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New research working towards preventing and treating necrotizing enterocolitis in premature babies

Necrotizing enterocolitis is an inflammatory disease of the intestines. New research suggests that premature babies are at risk of necrotizing enterocolitis in part because they have low levels of arachidonic and docosahexanoic acids in their gut, which regulate inflammation. Doctors routinely administer nutritional supplements to premature babies via an intravenous (i.v.) route until the gastrointestinal tract develops and the babies are able to process oral foods. This parenteral nutrition helps […]

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Frogs are teaching researchers about autism

Dr. Helen Willsey at the University of California San Francisco is seeking to understand how autism develops with the help of frogs. Because frogs produce thousands of embryos at the same time, she is able to quickly study the effects of many different gene alterations in the offspring. While the embryos are at the two-cell stage of development, her laboratory alters genes in just one of the cells using CRISPR-Cas9 […]

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Metabolic costs of reproduction, eating, and increasing temperatures

Planarians are rather cute little flatworms, although they tend to wreak havoc in fish tanks. Researchers have long been fascinated by their ability to regenerate body parts when injured with the help of adult stem cells. More recently, they have gained attention for their ability to survive long periods of time without eating by “degrowing”, i.e. getting smaller but still keeping their shape and functions intact. I would shrink too […]

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Dwarfism documented for first time in wild giraffes

A disorder affecting the normal development of cartilage and bone has been observed in wild giraffes. While skeletal dysplasia, or dwarfism, has been observed in captive and domestic animals such as dogs, cows, rats, pigs and marmosets, it is not often seen in wild animals. In a new study, researchers used photography to document the condition for the first time in a wild Nubian giraffe calf (Giraffa camelopardalis camelopardalis) in […]

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