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Building a time profile of respiratory activity

Research Achievements

Building a time profile of respiratory activity

IGERT trainee Loren Ballanti worked with the VAL (Variable Atmosphere Laboratory), which has two separate platforms for physiological research. The first system is for aquatic respirometry of molluscs, brachiopods and horseshoe crabs. Submersible pumps drive water flow through animal chambers while the oxygen content is monitored, allowing us to build a time profile of respiratory activity. Experiments over the past year examined the hypothesis that the known drop in oxygen associated with the great Permian mass extinction of 250 Myr ago was a major discriminator of which species survived. But we find that the brachiopods, which went almost totally extinct, have similar oxygen needs to molluscs, which survived very well. Our emphasis has now shifted to H2S requirements. Ballanti also developed a second system this past year allowing testing of custom atmospheres - both novel and re-created ancient environments - under which to assess the performance of living organisms.