Molecular biodiversity research and highly qualified personnel training are lab focal points. Using field and lab-based methods together with bioinformatic tools and statistical modelling approaches, we study the patterns and drivers of species habitat occupancy, community assembly and food web ecology. This information is central to addressing a variety of questions pertaining to biodiversity conservation, environmental effects monitoring and food security. We also contribute to the development of standard methods and best practices necessary to enhance receptor uptake capacity for a variety of partners including indigenous peoples, industry, governmental as well as non-governmental organizations, and other citizen science initiatives.Learn More
My research program adopts a broad and integrative approach to the study of chronic musculoskeletal pain, incorporating both basic and clinical sciences. A major arm to my research program is investigating the underlying pathophysiologic mechanisms using both animal and human models. My research also aims to advance reliable diagnostic criteria (imaging, biomarkers) and physical assessment techniques (quantitative sensory testing, electromyography) that enable effective and reliable treatment and management strategies. By emphasizing transdisciplinary and multi-institutional collaborations, my research program will continue to inform future clinical and experimental initiatives in the field of chronic musculoskeletal pain.Learn More
For bacteria, survival requires evading detection. Pathogens must evade their host, but all bacteria need to avoid being targeted by phages. Gram negative bacteria’s survival depends on lipopolysaccharide and capsule – highly complex carbohydrate molecules that coat their outer surface. The enzymes that produce these molecules are complex, drawing on a large set of basic modules but then tweaking and combining them into new organizations that accomplish unique ends. My lab is focused on understanding how the structures and large-scale architectures of these enzymes create the enormous variety of unique custom carbohydrates observed in nature. To this end, we use crystallography, enzymology, and a variety of biophysical assays and bioinformatics tools to better understand these proteins.Learn More
To better study the biology and virulence of fungal pathogens, we are developing new genomic technology platforms for diverse fungal species. We are exploiting CRISPR-Cas9 based technologies to revolutionize the way we do high-throughput functional genomic analysis in fungal pathogens. This is enabling us to map large-scale genetic interaction networks, and uncover genetic factors and pathways that mediate important phenotypes associated with pathogenesis, antifungal drug resistance, and other biological processes associated with fungal infectious diseases.Learn More
Current projects include:
- Mechanistic and functional connections between stress and adult neurogenesis in fish
- Effects of aquatic pollutants on fish physiology, morphology, and performance
- Neuroanatomy and regenerative capacity of the hagfish brain
- Quantitative proteomics as a tool for biomarker discovery and novel insights into animal physiology
Morphological studies have provided an outline of biodiversity, but are incapable of surveying, managing and protecting it on a planetary scale. By exploiting two technologies that are gaining power exponentially – DNA sequencing and computational capacity – my research promises an ever-accelerating capacity to monitor and know life. In particular, I aim to automate species identification and discovery, and to employ this capacity to answer longstanding scientific questions. Automation is possible because sequence diversity in short, standardized gene regions (DNA barcodes) enables fast, cheap, and accurate species discrimination. New instruments can inexpensively gather millions of DNA sequences, enabling surveys of organismal diversity at speeds and scales that have been impossible.Learn More
We are interested in the actions of transcription factors as activators and repressors of transcription in cells, as well as the regulatory circuits that evolve to shape embryos, notably the jaws.Learn More
The Sanders lab is interested in how neurons use the protein-lipid modification palmitoylation to target proteins to subcellular locations and to define how palmitoylation-dependent targeting contributes to physiological neuronal function and neuropathological conditions. Current projects include characterizing how palmitoylation of vesicular transport machinery regulates fast axonal transport and how palmitoylation of ion channels and their scaffold proteins regulates clustering at the axon initial segment, a critical site of neuronal excitability where action potentials are generated.Learn More
While animal models have lead to huge advancements in our understanding of neurobiology, there is controversy over whether overexpression/silencing of gene expression is representative of diverse disease states. Indeed, the lack of availability of primary human neurons has made evaluating the pathological consequences of genomic mutations arduous. The use of human induced pluripotent stem cell (hiPSC) technology overcomes these limitations by providing a source of human neurons from both normal and disease genetic backgrounds. We currently focus on stem cell based models of Parkinson's Disease (PD) to study how mitochondrial stress mechanisms impact on neuronal function in human disease.Learn More
My recent research includes detecting genetic and phenotypic variations of a common toad (Bufo gargarizans) along elevational gradients, establishing associations between them, and understanding how these variations may have contributed to the adaptation process. I am also studying the Phrynocephalus lizards, particularly their signal evolution, special adaptation to high-elevation environment (5000m), and population genetics and speciation. I also plan to return to one of my favorite research topics, the evolution of unisexuality in the Caucasian rock lizards (Darevskia).Learn More
We currently have several projects in various areas that explore aspects of the gut microbiome and beyond:
1) Understanding how gut microbes are involved in the modulation of disease in colorectal cancer, diabetes, infection, and inflammatory bowel diseases
2) Isolation and characterisation of hunter-gatherer people's gut microbiome in an effort to discover novel microbial species and understand their function
3) Characterisation of the non-bacterial microbes of the human microbiome and their functions
4) Building model systems to study human gut microbes in vitro and in vivo
5) The study of 'oncomicrobes' (in particular, Fusobacterium nucleatum), and the development of colorectal cancer.
6) Translation to the clinic - development of 'microbial ecosystem therapeutics'
We use the budding yeast S.cerevisiae as a model organism to ask how established chromatin structure is preserved or changed during repetitive rounds of DNA replication, and how these structures are transmitted to daughter cells. We study the activity of chromatin factors that are highly conserved in all eukaryotes. Our specific focus is on cell-to-cell variations in gene expression. Most of these variations are mediated by chromatin. We know little about the mechanisms that confer these changes.Learn More
Recent work has involved herbivores and carnivores movement ecology in Serengeti, woodland caribou, wolves, and moose in northern Ontario, and both wild and Norwegian reindeer. We conduct detailed field and experimental studies of both behavioural and demographic responses to landscape heterogeneity and compare these with theoretical models. As part of the Food from Thought research program, we are also evaluating the impact of anthropogenic stressors (nutrient additions due to fertilizer run-off, pesticide application, and temperature increase due to global climate change) on phytoplankton and zooplankton populations in massive aquatic mesocosms and the effect of marginal land restoration (prairies, wetlands, and secondary forest) on arthropod biodiversity using DNA meta-barcoding.Learn More
The growth of neurons and their organization into circuits is a tightly controlled process that follows a series of well-defined steps. Once differentiated and integrated into networks, neurons also retain a remarkable capacity to rapidly change the arrangement of their connections in response to activity, a feature that is believed to critically support cognition as well as our ability to learn and retain information for long periods of time. Accumulating evidence strongly suggests that perturbation of the molecular interactions responsible for the growth of neurons, or the capacity of these cells to adequately respond to activity-dependent signals, contributes to the pathophysiology of different brain disorders. Our laboratory uses a multidisciplinary approach to explore these questions.Learn More
We address questions about how biodiversity arises in single populations of fishes composed of alternate ecotypes that live in different lake habitats. We study the factors that regulate the formation of specialized ecotypes and have expanded theory by evaluating the role of phenotypic plasticity in adaptive divergence. Experience with fish resource polymorphism since 1993 uniquely positions us to investigate how different ecotypes evolve and may be converted into new species. We also study the effects of commercial fishing on natural populations. This work is important because diversity within populations is rarely considered in the contexts of ecological function, management and conservation, or its capacity to buffer populations from adverse effects of environmental change.Learn More
My research is focused on the biological effects of functional foods on chronic disease-related endpoints evaluated in human intervention studies. I have a focus on the agri-food-health continuum with a particular interest in studying the health effects of agri-foods such as soybeans, lentils and beans. I am interested in studies in all life-stages, however am actively involved with the Guelph Family Health Study (focus on families with young children) and with Agri-Food for Healthy Aging (focus on older adults). I am also interested in examining how different sub-groups perceive and consume functional foods as examined through comprehensive questionnaires.Learn More
Protein synthesis involves the translation of ribonucleic acid information into proteins, the building blocks of life. The initial step of protein synthesis consists of the eukaryotic translation initiation factor 4E (eIF4E) binding to the 5� cap of mRNAs. However, many cellular stresses repress cap-dependent translation to conserve energy by sequestering eIF4E. This raises a fundamental question in biology as to how proteins are synthesized during periods of cellular stress and eIF4E inhibition. Research in our laboratory will build upon the discovery that cells switch to an alternative cap-binding protein, eIF4E2, to synthesize the bulk of their proteins during periods of oxygen scarcity (hypoxia).Learn More
Our research centres on the application of physical activity and other acute/chronic perturbations to human physiology to understand how and why the body adapts to these stresses. We take an integrative systems approach, with our work focusing on interventions and assessments of cardiovascular, respiratory and muscular physiology. Specific focus areas include projects to understand the effects peripheral blood flow manipulation, the consequences of particularly stressful exercise, and novel training methods to optimize targetted physiological adaptations. From a health perspective, we are interested in understanding how exercise can be used to prevent and control risk factors for cardiovascular and cardiometabolic disease.Learn More
My research program investigates the ecological and evolutionary processes operating in plant populations, both wild and domesticated. Much of our work is conducted through the lens of plant reproductive systems, which control the quantity and quality of sperm and eggs, patterns of mating, and ultimately the transmission of genetic variation from one generation to the next. Current research projects include: 1) mating system variation and evolution, 2) polyploid speciation, 3) genetic and phenotypic consequences of whole genome duplication; 4) biology of small populations, and 5) impacts of hybridization between introduced species and endangered congeners. We work on a variety of study systems, including Arabidopsis, apple, strawberry, fireweed, American chestnut, and mulberry.Learn More
Skeletal muscle is a remarkable tissue which regulates many metabolic processes, generates heat and is the basic motor of locomotion allowing us to meaningfully interact with our environment. When a muscle is activated at various lengths it produces a given predictable amount of force. However, when that muscle is actively lengthened or shortened those predictions go out the window. We actually know very little regarding dynamic muscle contraction. My research program focuses on muscle contractile properties and gaining a deeper understanding of how muscle works. I use altered states to tease out some of these fine muscle details such as: Muscle fatigue, Aging, And Training.Learn More
More than 4 million Canadians have arthritis and the number of people living with arthritis continues to increase year after year. Osteoarthritis involves multiple tissues and often includes cartilage damage, bone sclerosis and synovial inflammation. A pressing need remains for joint localized therapies and interventions that could slow or ideally stop this debilitating disease.
In our research, we use genetic and surgical models of spontaneous osteoarthritis (with old age) and post-traumatic osteoarthritis (following injury). We follow the progression of disease in a joint in order to better understand how proteins such as TRPV4, integrin alpha1beta1 and cilia influence chondrocyte signal transduction and thus the development of osteoarthritis.
Our research typically involves assessing animals' preferences for and responses to 'enriched' housing conditions that are more complex and naturalistic than the standard norms; investigating abnormal behaviours like stereotypic pacing; validating potential welfare indicators (e.g. facial expressions), and we also analyse multi-species datasets to looks for species-level welfare risk and protective factors. We have worked or are working with mink, rats, mice, rhesus monkeys and zebra fish; and with large datasets from elephants, Carnivora, parrots and lemurs.Learn More