Parasites and pathogens are ubiquitous in nature. Some pathogens require host social contact for transmission, while others are transmitted through an environmental reservoir. For animals, among the most important drivers of parasite infection is behaviour. Our research program investigates the costs (parasitism) and benefits (fitness) of social and spatial behaviours in animal species of conservation concern. Specifically, bats are reservoir hosts to pathogens of human health concern and face declines due to white-nose syndrome. Caribou populations are in decline due to habitat destruction, climate change, and parasitism. In summary, our research group integrates theory across multiple ecological disciplines to tackle complex conservation and One Health problems.Learn More
Research Area: One health
Research in my lab is focused on the behaviour, ecology, and conservation of animals living in seasonal environments. Much of our field work is conducted on songbirds and butterflies but also includes past and present studies on salamanders, fruit flies, nightjars, seabirds, and domestic cats. We use both observational and experimental approaches, often combining these with emerging tracking technologies, to understand factors influencing variation in fitness and population abundance. Our two primary long-term studies are on Canada jays in Algonquin Park, ON (50+ yrs) and Savannah sparrows on Kent Island, NB (30+ yrs).Learn More
Many of the signaling pathways that are involved in development are also involved in the onset and progression of disease. As an example, the Wnt signaling pathway is required during many stages of development and in the homeostasis of stem cells in the adult. Perturbation of this pathway in stem cells in the adult often leads to cancer. It is now known that greater than 90% of colorectal cancers are caused by mutations in the Wnt signaling pathway. As this pathway is important for both proper development and disease, I am curious to know how this pathway can turn it self on and off so many times during development and why it fails to turn off in disease. The lab focuses on two negative feedback regulators of Wnt signaling: Nkd1 and Axin2.Learn More
My research group focuses on the diagnosis, prognosis and treatment of Lyme disease. I focus on different topics within this research theme, including: 1) the various forms that Borrelia (Lyme bacteria) can adopt and their corresponding role in the expression of the disease; 2) the effects of people and bacteria genetics in the expression of of the disease; 3) the development of new diagnostic tools; and, 4) the interactions that people diagnosed with Lyme disease have with the medical system.Learn More
My research is primarily focused on understanding the regulation of mitochondrial bioenergetics, with a particular interest in studying fatty acid oxidation (breakdown of fat yielding energy) in skeletal and cardiac muscle. We also study human exercise performance as well as type 2 diabetes, heart failure, diabetic cardiomyopathy and various neuropathologies, all conditions that have been affiliated with alterations in mitochondria as a key event in the progression and/or development of the disease.Learn More
My lab focuses on two main axes of research:
1) Unfolded Protein Response and Human Diseases: We study proteins that play key roles in animal stress responses, specifically the Unfolded Protein Response (UPR), which has been linked to animal development, cell differentiation, as well as a variety of human diseases such as Alzheimer’s, diabetes, cancer and viral infection.
2) Molecular Mechanisms of Aging: We are working to establish planarians as a new aging model to test the hypothesis that longevity requires multiplex resistance to stress. We hope to identify genes or alleles that confer such multiplex stress resistance and/or promote longevity.
My lab studies:
1) Large-scale genome evolution, with a focus on the "C-value enigma," transposable elements, and whole-genome duplications.
2) DNA quantification methods to measure nuclear DNA content.
3) DNA-based methods for species identification and questions in evolutionary biology to understand how biological diversity arises at all levels.
4) Genome size evolution to understand the operation of natural selection and other evolutionary principles.
5) The interface between Integrative Genomics and Evolutionary Biology, otherwise disconnected fields within the biological sciences.
We study proximate and ultimate questions around stress ecophysiology. We combine field studies and laboratory analyses to examine the persistent effects of early life stress on physiology, behaviour and fitness. We use a variety of approaches from large-scale manipulations in the wild to controlled laboratory experiments. I am excited by integrative questions that span levels of biological organization and students in the lab are encouraged to explore questions from evolutionary, ecological, physiological and molecular perspectives.Learn More
Cell adhesion and migration are fundamentally important to the existence of multicellular organisms. This is obvious in light of the numerous diseases that can afflict humans when these processes are impaired. Disruption of normal cellular adhesive and migratory activities can lead to developmental disorders and contribute to the progression of arthritis, immunological deficiencies and cancer. Both cell adhesion and migration are complex processes involving numerous biochemical signalling events, reorganization of the cellular cytoskeleton and localized remodelling of the plasma membrane. It is the goal of my laboratory to elucidate the molecular mechanisms that link these activities, allowing them to be coordinated during changes in cell adhesion and motility.Learn More
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
Currently, there are several major areas of research focus including the study of basic fatty acid metabolism, understanding the association between plasma fatty acids and health outcomes, omega-3 fatty acids in the prevention of breast cancer, and examining determinants of health in the Guelph Family Health Study. In addition, related projects include the study of fats in brain health (concussion, Alzheimer's Disease), fatty liver disease, fatty acid metabolism, bone development and nutrigenomics.Learn More
Dr. Heyland's laboratory uses novel functional genomics approaches to study the endocrine and neuroendocrine systems of aquatic invertebrates. Specifically he investigates the function and evolution of hormonal and neurotransmitter signaling systems in the regulation of development and metamorphosis. His research includes evolutionary development studies of marine invertebrate metamorphosis, eco-toxicogenomic approached to understand endocrine disruption in aquatic ecosystems and water remediation technologies. These projects are integrated with several national and international collaborations ranging form basic scientific work to industry partnerships.Learn More
My research focuses on the reproductive physiology of fish. We study which hormones affect ovarian follicle development and if there are hallmark responses (changes in hormone biosynthesis, receptor abundance, recruitment of downstream activators) that determine whether an ovarian follicle is destined to mature and ovulate. This research is fundamental to defining spawning success which is a prime measure of reproductive fitness and provides the toolbox that we use to examine the mechanisms by which endocrine disrupting compounds (pharmaceuticals; ammonia) and complex environmental effluents (municipal waste water, pulp mills; oils sands process affected water) affect ovarian physiology.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
In the next 5 years, I will shift my research strategy by consolidating 4 streams of my past research: temporal dynamics, host-symbiont interactions, small mammal metacommunity dynamics, and DNA-based species identification and bioinformatics. I will focus on a study system that combines my past strengths in metacommunity ecology at multiple scales, but will apply them to a novel system: microbial metacommunities nested within a matrix of metacommunity of different host species.Learn More
The current rates of environmental change experienced by animal populations are higher than have been experienced over much of fossil record. My laboratory investigates the factors that determine whether a population will adapt to a change in the environment without going extinct. Our current projects are:
1) Invasion biology, comparing scales of local genetic adaptation to exotic predators by prey with high and low dispersal potential.
2) Genomic selection and genome wide association analysis of growth, shape, pathogen resistant and life history traits in Atlantic salmon populations.
3) Assessing heritable variation in biological control of the salmon louse by two species of cleaner fish and co-operative behaviour by their client, Atlantic salmon.
Ongoing projects include:
1) Examining cardiac remodeling in zebrafish and trout in response to thermal acclimation.
2) Characterizing the role of the troponin complex in regulating the function of striated muscle.
3) Examining the function of the hagfish heart during prolonged anoxia exposure.
4) Examining the change in diaphragm function during the onset of heart failure.
5) Characterizing how bitumen exposure of sockeye salmon early life stages influences cardiac development and aerobic fitness.
We are interested in characterizing the mechanisms of pathogenesis, adaptation, and survival in fungal and bacterial microbes from a systems biology perspective through mass spectrometry-based quantitative proteomics. Specifically, research in the lab centres around the following areas:
1) Systems biology to elucidate microbial proteome dynamics and interactions;
2) Mechanistic characterization of pathogenic proteins; and
3) Mass spectrometry-based proteomics for drug discovery and repurposing.
First, we have systematically generated inhibitors and activators for E3 ubiquitin ligases to discover new enzyme catalytic mechanism and new substrates. We continue to develop synthetic peptides and proteins to delineate biochemical mechanisms of E3 ubiquitin ligases.
Second, we showed that structure-based protein engineering enables development of anti-viral reagents for Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS) coronavirus. Now we started engineering post-translational modifications to probe and rewire DNA damage signaling for cancer therapeutics.
Finally, we created molecular tools to increase CRISPR-Cas9 genome-editing efficiency. Now we are developing new tools as "off-switch" for CRISPR-based gene editing through targeted protein degradation.
The Cox lab aims to gain a better understanding of the molecular underpinnings of resistance mechanisms. Specifically, we study bacterial efflux systems, which will provide insight into their physiological functions and origins and will also support future drug discovery efforts and antibiotic stewardship. In addition, recognizing the need for innovation in the search for new antibacterial agents, we are exploring novel approaches to control bacterial infections by investigating the inhibition of bacterial adhesion to host cells.Learn More