Life Lines by Dr. Dolittle

Sponsored by the American Physiological Society

Polar bears summering on land exposed to more pathogens

Polar bears (Ursus maritimus) living near the southern Beaufort Sea are spending more time on land during the summer months than in years past as a result of climate change and melting sea ice. Researchers wanted to know whether bears that spent more time on land were exposed to more pathogens compared to those who spent more time on sea ice. Their results, published in the journal Physiological and Biochemical Zoology, showed […]

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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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Rapid switches in metabolism of hibernating animals

  In a new study published in the American Journal of Physiology – Regulatory, Integrative and Comparative Physiology, researchers examined how changes in metabolism during torpor are regulated in 13-lined ground squirrels (Ictidomys tridecemlineatus). During hibernation, these animals cycle between bouts of torpor (about 2 weeks each) when their metabolism is reduced by 95% and body temperature can drop to 5degC and short states of interbout euthermia when both temperature […]

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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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Chronic pain after an injury

A new study published in Science Advances reveals that fruit flies may feel chronic pain after an injury. While researchers have known that insects can feel pain (evidenced by their avoidance of stimuli that may be perceived as painful), they did not know whether insects developed chronic pain like people sometimes do after an injury. The research team studied fruit flies with an amputated leg resulting in damage to the […]

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Birds have a unique way of preventing muscle wasting

Muscle wasting is a major complication associated with cirrhosis and liver failure. Normally the liver functions to convert ammonia into urea. But with liver failure, this process does not work well leading to high levels of circulating ammonia, which is thought to contribute to muscle wasting in mammals. A new study published in the American Journal of Physiology – Regulatory, Integrative and Comparative Physiology, explored whether birds have the same muscle wasting […]

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