BIO seminar on stress adaption in elephant seals: Thursday February 23 at 15.00

Dear all,

it is a pleasure to invite everyone José Vazquez-Medina’s seminar on stress adaptations in elephant seals, a topic of relevance to anyone interested in cell and molecular biology, physiology, organismal biology, ecology and environmental toxicology, see abstract below.

José Vazquez-Medina is assistant professor at the Department of Integrative Biology at University of California, Berkeley, and is visiting us at the University of Bergen as part of a Peder Sather Grant collaboration on stress responses in marine mammals related to microplastics.

The seminar will be given in Stort Auditorium, HIB, Thursday February 23, 15.00-16.00. Coffee will be served.

Anyone interested in a personal meeting with José should contact me to set up an appointment before February 20, when he arrives in Bergen.


Best wishes,

Anders Goksøyr


Chasing the mechanistic bases of stress adaptation in elephant seals – abstract

José Pablo Vázquez-Medina

Department of Integrative Biology, University of California, Berkeley, CA, USA

Elephant seals are a prime example of extreme physiological adaptation as they can hold their breath for extended periods while diving and sleeping. Remarkably, extended breath-holding in seals is associated with severe hypoxemia and ischemia but does not result in the cardiovascular complications observed in humans that suffer from heart attacks, pulmonary embolism, or sleep apnea. Similarly, elephant seals undergo spontaneous long-term absolute food deprivation while breeding, molting, and undergoing postnatal development. Prolonged fasting in elephant seals induces a pro-inflammatory phenotype and increases circulating cortisol without causing deleterious consequences. The cellular mechanisms that drive seals’ tolerance to such conditions, however, remain largely unknown. Hence, we have established physiologically relevant cellular systems, including contractile myofibers and flow-adapted endothelial cells, to study how seal cells respond to different stressors and physiological adjustments associated with fasting and breath-holding. Here, I will present data my lab has generated using those systems. Mechanistic studies using cellular systems along with traditional whole-organism investigations can help dissect the cellular and molecular bases of extreme physiological adaptation and exquisite metabolic regulation in elephant seals and other wild vertebrates.


Host: Anders Goksøyr


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