Dylan Cole

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Master’s Student

My research interests focus on the comparative physiology of marine fishes, specifically the Pacific spiny dogfish (Squalus suckleyi) and Pacific hagfish (Eptatretus stoutii). I seek to understand how these amazing animals iono- and osmoregulate. The membrane transporters responsible for ion movement are of most interest because they greatly influence how these animals tolerate changing environments. The knowledge of ion transporters can later be used in refining phylogenetic trees. This is particularly important to Pacific hagfish due to the ongoing controversy over their evolutionary placement. My current project aims to characterize a sodium-phosphate co-transporter (NaPi-II) that hagfish express in skin, gills, and gut. This is unique to hagfish as phosphate uptake in all other vertebrates is restricted to the gut. I use the Xenopus oocyte expression system to generate functional NaPi-II transporters and subsequently perform uptake experiments using the radioisotope 32P. During the summer months I travel to the Bamfield Marine Science Centre (BMSC) on the west coast of Vancouver Island. BMSC allows for experimentation on fishes that cannot be kept in the aquatic facilities at the University of Alberta, such as the dogfish.