Hot Student Papers

Surfing the biomass size spectrum: some remarks on history, theory, and application

21 Mar 2016 - 8:06am
Lauren Barth on a boat

Would it surprise you to know that there is a rigorous theory underlying the observation that in nature big organisms are much rarer than small ones? In a new paper, PhD student Lauren Barth and her advisor Prof. Gary Sprules review much of the research on the Biomass Size Spectrum, a theory of ecosystem structure and function based solely on the body size of organisms that has been a focus of investigation in the Sprules’ lab. Their paper “Surfing the biomass size spectrum: some remarks on history, theory, and application” was recently published in Canadian Journal of Fisheries and Aquatics Sciences.

Identification of the first insulin-like peptide in the disease vector Rhodnius prolixus: Involvement in metabolic homeostasis of lipids and carbohydrates

3 Mar 2016 - 8:34am
Rhodnius prolixus

U of T is famous for the discovery of insulin. This compound and its analogs continues to fuel intrigue, discoveries and innovation at our university, as demonstrated by the recent paper by PDF Dr. Marina Defferrari (Lange Lab) “Identification of the first insulin-like peptide in the disease vector Rhodnius prolixus: Involvement in metabolic homeostasis of lipids and carbohydrates” in the journal Insect Biochemistry and Molecular Biology. Marina identified the first insulin-like peptide in the Chagas disease vector Rhodnius prolixus and investigated its involvement in energy homeostasis both in starved and recently fed insects.

Highly polymorphic microsatellite markers in Pulsatilla vulgaris (Ranunculaceae) using next-generation sequencing

12 Feb 2016 - 2:11pm
Pulsatilla vulgaris, a specialist wildflower of dry grasslands in Europe

Is there a better way to celebrate Darwin Day than with a Hot Student Paper at the cusp of evolution and ecology? Of course not! This week, we highlight a paper by Ph.D. student Michelle DiLeo (Wagner Lab) published in Applications in Plant Sciences entitled “Highly polymorphic microsatellite markers in Pulsatilla vulgaris (Ranunculaceae) using next-generation sequencing”. Pulsatilla vulgaris is a specialist wildflower of dry grasslands in Europe, which has witnessed rapid declines across its range. Its decline is linked to the abandonment of traditional grazing practices, resulting in the severe loss of dry grassland habitat.

Reducing clinical trial risk in multiple sclerosis

15 Jan 2016 - 8:28am
pill capsules and a syringe

Multiple sclerosis (MS) has enjoyed considerable success by the standards of any disease, in terms of the number of new drugs approved for treatment, and many of these drugs represent new mechanisms of action. How have we achieved this success and what might we further capitalize on this momentum? This question was recently tackled by Cassandra De Gasperis-Brigante, a former ROP Biology student working with Dr. Jayson Parker. Together they published “Reducing clinical trial risk in multiple sclerosis” in Multiple Sclerosis and Related Disorders.

Re-evaluation of the historic Canadian fossil Bathygnathus borealis from the early Permian of Prince Edward Island

16 Dec 2015 - 9:09am
artist's drawing of a Dimetrodon

Nothing brings on the holidays like a blood-thirsty extinct Dimetrodon in Canada … or is it! Recent PhD graduate Dr. Kirstin Brink published “Re-evaluation of the historic Canadian fossil Bathygnathus borealis from the early Permian of Prince Edward Island” in Can. J. Earth Sci.. This paper redescribes an historic Canadian fossil collected in 1845 on PEI, Bathygnathus borealis. Although originally thought to be a dinosaur, the fossil is actually a sphenacodontid, which is on the lineage leading towards mammals. Using CT scan data and new phylogenetic analyses, this study suggests that the fossil from PEI is in fact a species of Dimetrodon.

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