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Why diving marine mammals resist brain damage from low oxygen
Date:12/18/2007

research hasn't completely solved the mystery, but it's a first step, said Mary Zavanelli, a lecturer in molecular, cell, and developmental biology at UCSC. Zavanelli developed the laboratory techniques for measuring the amounts and kinds of globins in brain tissue by analyzing gene expression. In this way, she confirmed the species differences.

"There won't be a quick answer because this is complicated biology," said Zavanelli. "But the techniques are straightforward and simple, so it's just a matter of focusing on our questions. The big problem is getting enough brain tissue that's in good shape, especially from found wild animals."

As this research project continues, it might expand to include an investigation of whether high levels of brain globins are correlated with long lifespans in certain species. Bowhead whales have been known to live as long as 211 years, Williams noted. That makes her wonder how their brains are protected and whether whales ever suffer from strokes.

"These animals may have solved the aging brain problem," she noted. "Neuroglobins might give us some clues as to how."


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Contact: Tim Stephens
stephens@ucsc.edu
831-459-2495
University of California - Santa Cruz
Source:Eurekalert

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