RESEARCH PROJECTS

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ELEVATED TEMPERATURE AND MUSCLE DEVELOPMENT OF JUVENILE EPAULETTE SHARKS

Epaulette shark (Hemiscyllium ocellatum) individuals were reared under temperatures 5℃ higher than average known rearing temperatures. Confocal microscopy and transmission electron microscopy (TEM) were used for measures of skeletal muscle development and immunoblotting techniques for expression of muscle growth, oxidative stress, and protein degradation biomarkers to understand potential effects of chronic elevated incubation temperatures on individual shark viability.

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ELEVATED TEMPERATURE AND PECTORAL FIN STRUCTURE IN THE LITTLE SKATE

Little Skate (Leucoraja erinacea) individuals were reared under temperatures 5℃ higher than ambient rearing temperatures. Pectoral fins were analyzed using confocal microscopy to detect changes in fin morphology and cellular glycosylation and TEM for measures of cellular damage as a result of higher temperatures.

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AUTOPHAGY DETECTION AND EXPRESSION IN COASTAL SHARK SPECIES

Autophagy is a homeostatic macro-molecular degradation process observed in many organisms. The dependence on this process varies by organism, physiological conditions, and environmental stressors. The purpose of this project is to determine basal expression of autophagy markers in several coastal shark species and to detect any intra- or interspecies differences in expression that may relate to life history or behavior.

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HYPOXIA-INDUCED AUTOPHAGY  AND ENVIRONMENTAL ADAPTATION

Hypoxia (oxygen deficiency) is a commonly studied stressor in the biomedical field related to pathological conditions, yet hypoxia is also an environmental stressor. Many marine organisms face and have behavioral or physiological strategies to combat common hypoxia levels, yet the concern for chronic hypoxia is increasing due to potential climate change effects on ocean chemistry. Hypoxia can induce autophagy to protect cells from apoptosis (cell death), and has yet to be studied in the context of potential physiological mechanisms employed by known hypoxia-tolerant marine species. Through the study of a known hypoxia-tolerant marine species, we might be able to further elucidate the extent to which hypoxia-induced autophagy is used and other factors that may be involved in its initiation.

Photo Credit: Mazure and Pouysségur 2010. Current Opinion in Cell Biology