Life Lines by Dr. Dolittle

Sponsored by the American Physiological Society

Sleep = better DNA repair

I read an interesting article published in Nature Communications that described how zebrafish larvae need sleep to help fix damaged DNA that accumulates in their brains during the day. The researchers engineered zebrafish larvae to have fluorescent chromosomes in a single neuron, which allowed them to observe double-strand breaks in the DNA build-up during wakefulness. In contrast, chromosome activity necessary for repair increased when the animals were sleeping. If the researchers disrupted […]

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Gynandromorphs

Talking about having a split personality. A recent story from Live Science reported on a half male/half female chimera cardinal that was discovered in Pennsylvania (pictured below). Not only are the bird’s feathers split (red feathers are found among male and tan among female cardinals), typically the brain is also split. This type of a split sexuality is termed gynandromorph. According to the article, this  anomaly has been observed in birds, […]

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Sniffing out cancer?

I just saw an interesting review article published in Physiological Reviews that discussed the presence of olfactory (i.e. smell) receptors located outside of the nose. Say what? It turns out that these “smell” receptors are not unique to our nostrils. In fact they are found throughout our bodies. Those found in the heart may be responsible for regulating heart function, those in the immune system are thought to help destroy types […]

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Adapting to rising temperatures

In a new review article published in Physiology, Dr. Jonathon Stillman from San Francisco State University explores how populations of animals and humans may respond to increasing frequency of heat waves. According to Dr. Stillman, the past decade has produced some of the hottest years on record, resulting in the loss of human and animal life. Both the length and intensity of these heat waves are expected to increase, which […]

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If only I were a fruit fly…

  Oh, to be a Drosophila. A new study published in Science Advances reports that male Drosophila have an amazing tolerance for sleep deprivation. I wish I could say the same about humans. Like people, sleep duration in flies varies between individuals, with some animals getting only a few minutes of sleep a day. In many other species, chronic sleep deprivation is associated with shorter lifespans. In this new study, researchers […]

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Porcine heart donors

Have you heard about the research being conducted to improve the use of pig hearts for human transplants?  A recent article from Discover Magazine reported on a study in which researchers were able to keep a baboon alive for 6 months with a transplanted pig heart. While pig hearts are similar to primate hearts, a major problem with xenotransplantation is that they are not only bigger to begin with, they […]

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Don’t let that cute little face fool you…

This is not your Grandmother’s cat. Despite its seemingly domesticated look, this cute feline is a fierce hunter. Black-footed cats are the smallest wild felines in Africa coming in at only 14-20 inches long, 8 inches in height and weighing only 2-6 pounds. They are also considered the deadliest feline on Earth. Say what??? Turns out this Napoleonic cat is known for killing more prey in one night (10-14 rodents […]

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