A smooth septate junction (ladder-like structure) between two epithelial cells in the midgut of Drosophila melanogaster.

A smooth septate junction (ladder-like structure) between two epithelial cells in the midgut of Drosophila melanogaster.

A new paper from the lab in Scientific Reports shows how chilling disrupts paracellular barriers in the gut of Drosophila melanogaster. Heath, Gil, Sima, Scott, and Andrew teamed up to examine whether chilling simply slows transcellular ion and water transport, or if it also causes the septate junctions between epithelial cells to be disrupted. Not only does chilling disrupt gut barriers, but the ability to maintain gut barrier properties at low temperature is plastic; cold acclimation mitigates barrier disruption!

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AuthorHeath MacMillan

A new paper by Lisa Jørgensen, Johannes Overgaard and myself is now in press at the Journal of Thermal Biology. Lisa was an undergraduate volunteer who found time to do an entire set of experiments in her spare time. Her hard work has now come to fruition!

In order to clearly determine the mechansisms setting thermal limits, we need to understand the order in which different organs, tissues and biochemical processes fail at extreme temperatures. Here, Lisa shows that although exposing European green crabs to high temperatures causes them to lose ion balance, this loss of balance follows AFTER the crab is paralyzed and suffering from cardiac issues. Thus, a loss of extracellular ion balance does not cause paralysis, but might instead be a secondary consequence of tissue damage after a suite of physiological systems begin to shut down.

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AuthorHeath MacMillan

Gil Yerushalmi aced his honours thesis defence and is ready to start as a MSc student in the Donini lab in September. Gil's honours thesis was on the effects of dietary salt intake on the cold tolerance of D. melanogaster, and will be submitted for publication this summer. Here is Gil with his poster at CSZ 2016 in May. He was a finalists for the Helen Battle Award against several seasoned MSc and PhD students. We are so proud!

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AuthorHeath MacMillan
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James O'Sullivan has published the findings of his study, where he examined the effects of heat stress on ion and water balance in locusts. James was on exchange to Aarhus University from Manchester and completed all of this work during his year-long visit. James was, and continues to be an outstanding student and colleague. Check out the paper here.

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AuthorHeath MacMillan

With the exam period coming to a close we are happy to officially welcome Tracey Edwards to the group! Tracey will be working over the summer to examine how exposure to heavy metals influences thermal tolerance of cute little freshwater crustaceans called Daphnia. Welcome Tracey!

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AuthorHeath MacMillan

Today, a new manuscript has been published in the Nature journal, Scientific Reports. This work was a collaboration with Jonas Andersen, Shireen Davies, and Johannes Overgaard. We show that the ability to survive at low temperatures is linked to the ability to maintain ion homeostasis, and species that have evolved to tolerate low temperatures do so, in part, because their renal system functions more effectively in the cold. This is an important step forward, and I am very proud of the work we present in this paper. I'm also extremely thankful to Jonas for his many hours of dissecting out Malpighian tubules from 1 mg flies, which is not easy!

Check out a press release from York University here, which links directly to the open access article. 

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AuthorHeath MacMillan