Fish are subjected to numerous acid-base challenges in their environment due to changing environmental conditions, contaminants, and stressors, which may impair their performance and survival. Acid-base homeostasis is critical given that small changes to pH can greatly impair animal function and performance; this is closely associated with water chemistry and regulation of these functions can be altered by water physiochemical properties, which may be particularly variable in freshwater environments. During severe acid-base challenges, some fishes exhibit exceptional capacity for pH regulation whereby they only regulate the pH of tissues and allow blood pH to fall by up to a full pH unit, a phenomenon that would result in death for most animals, including humans. This strategy has been termed ‘preferential intracellular pH (pHi) regulation’ and may be linked to the evolution of air breathing in vertebrates as it allows bimodal breathing fishes to tolerate the respiratory acidosis incurred during air breathing episodes. The molecular and cellular mechanisms that underpin preferential pHi regulation are unknown and its role in the evolution air breathing remains unclear; these areas form the basis for large knowledge gaps in our understanding of acid-base physiology in vertebrates.
The Shartau Lab is seeking a MS student for Fall 2022 to pursue questions related to acid-base regulation in fishes. Depending on student interest, a number of projects are available such as:
• Investigating the mechanisms of preferential pHi regulation
• Examining how pattern and mechanism of acid-base regulation changes throughout development
• Effect of multiple stressors on acid-base regulation
These projects will make use of various approaches ranging from transcriptomic and proteomic analysis, immunohistochemistry, whole animal measurements (e.g. metabolic rate, swim performance), behavioural assays, and field-based measurements to link lab-based studies with the environment.
In addition to the main project, the student will have opportunities to participate in other research projects in the lab related to environmental physiology and toxicology.
Applicants must have a Bachelor’s degree relevant to biology, should have a strong academic background and possess excellent written and oral communication skills in English. The student must possess a keen interest in comparative animal physiology and an aptitude for experimental work. This includes prior laboratory experience and completion of undergraduate physiology courses.
Twelve months of salary and partial tuition support will be provided for up to 2 years through a combination of research and teaching funding, pending satisfactory performance. For further information or if you wish to pursue this opportunity, please contact Dr. Ryan Shartau (email@example.com).
If you want to apply for this opportunity, please provide the following:
1) 1-2 paragraph statement on your motivation and qualifications,
2) Unofficial transcript,
4) Names and contact information for 2-3 references
Applications will be considered starting January 31st, 2022. Start date will be September 2022.