Dr. Rod W. Wilson, School of Biological and Chemical Sciences, Hatherly Laboratories, University of Exeter, Devon, UK.
Dr. Wilson’s research focuses upon the mechanisms by which animals respond to environmental change (natural and anthropogenic) to maintain homeostasis (internal stability) - in particular regarding ion, water and acid-base balance, respiratory gas exchange and nitrogenous waste excretion. Furthermore, how these mechanisms are integrated with each other and with behavior to provide appropriate responses to environmental stimuli. He has used a variety of model organisms from aquatic invertebrates and fish, to mammals. This research embraces techniques ranging from molecular genetics to in vivo physiology and the behavior of fish in the laboratory and in the wild. This multi-disciplinary emphasis aims to provide a more holistic appreciation of the homeostatic responses in complex multicellular organisms.
Of particular relevance to RSMAS is his recent research on the physiology of water balance in marine bony fish, animals that are continually faced with the threat of dehydration living in an environment that is 3 times saltier than their own body fluids. A fascinating spin-off from this fundamental research is the realization that the production of carbonate crystals appears to occur in all marine bony fish. On a global scale this has been estimated to make a significant contribution to the marine-atmospheric carbon cycle, as the excreted calcium carbonate (which originates from the fishes own CO2 is dense and sinks to the sea floor, effectively removing CO2 from the cycle as it becomes trapped in deep ocean sediments.
Dr. Wilson is therefore linking with marine biogeochemists and fish population modelers in the UK and USA to help improve these models and perhaps ultimately our predictions of global climate change. He is also engaged in molecular research into novel genes (e.g. calcium-sensing receptors) that help these fish produce the life-preserving carbonate crystals, but which may also provide information that is relevant to biomedical research, such as parathyroid disorders where calcium-sensing receptors are under active.
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