Dr. Dolittle

“Lethal milk”

Zinc deficiency is sometimes diagnosed in infants who are exclusively breast-fed. It can occur because of a dysfunctional zinc transporter in the mother, which prevents zinc from being secreted into the breast milk through a special zinc transporter in the epithelial cells of the mammary gland (Chowanadisai et al., 2006). It could also be inherited.…

Training pigeons to detect cancer

You are probably thinking, whose bird-brained idea was that? Well, as it turns out, a new study published in PLOS ONE shows that pigeons can be trained to accurately differentiate cancerous versus healthy tissue biopsies. This is because the process of diagnosing cancer involves visual screening of MRIs an biopsies and pigeons use similar visual processing…

A new study published in PLOS ONE that examined bitter taste receptors in cats may provide evidence as to why felines are such finicky eaters. Unlike my cat that seems to take after Garfield in his dietary choices, most cats are purely carnivorous. Cats are reportedly unable to taste sweets thus plant-based starches are not…

Turns out the egg is an important phase. A new study published this month in American Journal of Physiology – Regulatory, Integrative and Comparative Physiology looked at what happens in the egg when a chicken fetus was exposed to low oxygen (hypoxia) conditions. In mammals, this can occur as a result of maternal hypoxia, preeclampsia as well as anemia in…

2015 Arizona Physiological Society

The Arizona Physiological Society held their 8th annual conference Nov 13-14 at Midwestern University in Glendale. This was a great meeting for comparative physiologists! Here are some comparative physiology highlights from the meeting:   The 2015 Keynote Speaker was Dr. Andrew Biewener (Harvard University) who spoke about “How do running animals acheive stability? The neuromechanical…

Researchers in China are exploring the use of gene-editing technologies to create customized animals. Take for example research at the Shaanxi Provincial Engineering and Technology Research Center for Shaanbei Cashmere Goats where animals have been genetically-modified to have longer hair (i.e. more wool) and more muscles (i.e. meat). This was accomplished using the relatively new technology CRISPR-Cas9 developed in…

The amazing cockroach

I’ll admit I get a bit squeamish when I see a cockroach. However, after reading new research about the “ew” inspiring creatures, I have a bit more respect for them. Not only can these bugs run vertically up walls, survive nuclear war and live without their head for weeks (thus I suggest squishing the whole body), new…

Less poop is bad for the planet

I just read a very interesting press release describing a new study conducted at the University of Vermont that was recently published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. In this study researchers demonstrated that the excrement of large land animals and whales plays a major role in maintaining the fertility of the planet.…

This is an exciting weekend for science! This Friday and Saturday the 8th annual Arizona Physiological Society is hosting their annual conference in Glendale, Arizona. The keynote speaker will be Dr. Andrew Biewener (Harvard University) who will present “How Do Running Animals Achieve Stability? The Neuromechanical Control of Rapid Locomotion.” The Arizona Distinguished Lecturer will be…

Spooooky bats

This video about vampire bats still fascinates me!