Life Lines by Dr. Dolittle

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Tag Archive for ‘metabolism’

Live fast, die young

Researchers have long known that smaller animals have higher metabolisms and tend to die younger than larger animals. Think about it – a mouse typically only lives about 2 years whereas an elephant in the wild may live 50-70 years, depending on the species. After studying over 700 species of birds and 540 species of mammals, scientists discovered that migratory animals also live faster (mature and reproduce earlier) and die […]

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Getting louder costs more energy

Bats produce sounds to navigate their surroundings in a process called echolocation. The problem is that sound does not travel very well through air. To overcome this barrier, bats produce very high-intensity sounds. In fact, some bats can even produce sounds that are around 137 decibels sound pressure level (dB SPL), which is near the range that can cause hearing damage in people. Just like people, bats call at higher […]

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Cholesterol levels in tissues change during hypoxia in naked mole rats

Naked mole rats are rather famous from a physiological perspective for their amazing ability to live in hypoxic conditions. They do so in part by reducing their metabolic rate. In fact, researchers at the University of Ottawa in Canada showed that reducing environmental oxygen levels to 11% resulted in a 34% decrease in the animal’s metabolic rate. Studies of hypoxia-tolerant goldfish show that the animals respond to hypoxia challenges by […]

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What’s the buzz about bees?

We are excited to share the following interview with Dr. Lizzette Cambron, an NSF Graduate Fellow working in Dr. Kendra Greenlee’s laboratory at North Dakota State University. Dr. Cambron was scheduled to present her research at the 2020 Experimental Biology conference last month in a Comparative and Evolutionary Physiology session hosted by the American Physiological Society. As with many conferences, the meeting was cancelled due to Covid-19.  She has agreed […]

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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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Mourning doves do not need to watch their figures

So jealous. Research presented by Anthony Basile, graduate student in the laboratory of Dr. Karen Sweazea at Arizona State University, at Experimental Biology 2019 examined how mourning doves would respond to a diet high in saturated fats. He reported on how mice fed a similar diet develop pathological changes in hormones and metabolism, as would be expected. But, doves fed a similar diet did not seem to show any notable […]

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Porcine adaptation to heat stress

  A new study published in American Journal of Physiology – Regulatory, Integrative and Comparative Physiology explored the effects of modest heat stress (35°C, 95°F) on the physiology of pigs. The found that pigs exposed to heat stress ate less than those exposed to ambient temperatures. I understand. I eat less when it is hot outside too. Since skeletal muscle is such a large metabolically active tissue, things that alter muscle metabolism […]

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What do hibernating animals and astronauts have in common?

Well, nothing yet…but imagine the possibilities of human spaceflight if we could put people into a form of stasis? While short term stasis-like states have been used in medical settings, the idea of putting people into stasis to allow long term space travel – without intensive physician oversight, remains a major goal of space agencies and companies like Spaceworks (above). Scientists at the Comparative Physiology meeting considered this very question, […]

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Parasite-induced metabolic disease

Dr. Rudolf Schilder (Penn State University) presented a poster yesterday reporting that male dragonflies (Libellula pulchella) are developing infection-induced metabolic disease that is similar to type 2 diabetes and obesity in vertebrates. The culprit? A protozoan parasite in the animal’s gut. It makes you wonder if parasites may be to blame for some metabolic disease cases in humans…

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Very high intensity exercise: hovering

I just read an interesting review published in Physiology of flight energetics and fuel use in nectar feeding hummingbirds and bats. While flight is considered pretty high intensity exercise, hovering flight is even more demanding. Hummingbirds and nectar feeding bats are really tiny and thus have very high metabolisms to maintain body heat. Some of these animals are also migratory, which is an even greater energy demand. Remarkably, they sustain […]

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