Summary: We use genetic and genomic tools to examine: 1) the growth and health of fish and 2) the differences between fish populations with regard to their physiology. All of the laboratory techniques and equipment we use are the same as those used by folks who study birds mammals, and humans. Many of the fish systems we study such as carbohydrate metabolism can serve as a model for human systems. For instance when we feed a trout a diet high in sugar, their systems act just like a human with Type II diabetes. We then look at how the fish processes sugar in order to learn more about the physiological processes across species.
Minimum Classes: Students should have had at least one chemistry course and one biology course.
Projects: Soybeans are an abundant and relatively cheap source of protein to feed animals. However, many soy products contain “anti-nutritional” compounds that cause deleterious changes and inflammation to the intestine called enteritis. This summer our lab will be examining genes associated with enteritis caused by feeding different species of fish a diet with soy proteins in it. We will examine trout, red drum and cobia. We will be searching for genes that serve as biomarkers for intestinal inflammation across these species. Many of the genes we will test are the same genes already associated with human irritable bowel syndrome, celiac disease and Crohn’s disease. Students will be involved in all aspects of the wet laboratory/ field research including fish handling and anesthesia, drawing blood/analyzing blood and taking tissue samples. They will receive an AALAS certificate for animal care and use training. Students will also be involved in all aspects of the laboratory research including learning how to isolate DNA/RNA, carrying out quantitative PCR and other molecular laboratory techniques.