Happy Holidays from the Demas Lab!

Yesterday, members of the Demas lab gathered at Greg’s house for our annual holiday party, featuring delicious food and a white elephant gift exchange! From all of us at the Demas Lab, we wish you a wonderful holiday season!

Cat Defends Masters Thesis

Yesterday, Cat successfully defended her Masters thesis, entitled “Presence and Physiological Effects of Phytoestrogens in the Diet of Ugandan Red Colobus Monkeys (Piliocolobus tephrosceles).” This thesis was the culmination of several years of research that Cat conducted in Dr. Mike Wasserman’s lab in the Department of Anthropology. Congratulations, Cat!

Kat Publishes Manuscript in Hormones and Behavior

Kat’s manuscript on the role of adrenal melatonin type 1 (MT1) receptors in regulating seasonal plasticity in social behavior was recently published in Hormones and Behavior! In this study, Kat showed that overexpressing MT1 receptors in the adrenal glands and exposure to short-day (SD) photoperiods caused similar changes in social behavior, including increased aggression and decreased investigation and self-grooming, in male hamsters. Conversely, timed melatonin administration, but not adrenal MT1 overexpression, was necessary to induce SD-like reductions in body and reproductive tissue mass. Taken together, her results suggest that adrenal MT1 receptor signaling modulates social behavior, but not energetics or reproduction in seasonally breeding species.

A link for the manuscript can be found under the “Publications” page and can also be accessed here.

Kat Gives Invited Talk at Annual Seasonality Symposium

Last week, Kat gave a virtual invited talk at the Annual Seasonality Symposium 2021, a meeting sponsored by the British Society for Neuroendocrinology and the Journal of Neuroendocrinology! In her presentation, she discussed some of her recent findings on how seasonal changes in melatonin secretion and adrenal melatonin type 1 (MT1) receptor expression alter steroid synthesis and territorial aggression in Siberian hamsters. Way to go, Kat!

Luke Awarded Best Poster Presentation at the Nebraska Summer Research Symposium

Luke was awarded Best Poster Presentation for the Systems Biology of Plant and Microbiome REU Program at the University of Nebraska’s Summer Research Symposium! For his project, Luke examined differences in gene expression in different maize root cell types via single cell/nucleus RNA sequencing with Dr. Marc Libault’s lab. Luke also placed in the top 5 poster presentations for all summer research programs across the university, which consisted of approximately 100 presenters! Congratulations, Luke!

Allison Publishes Manuscript in Journal of Experimental Zoology Part A

Former Demas lab graduate student Allison Bailey’s manuscript on the effects of food restriction during development on puberty and seasonal reproductive responses to food availability during adulthood was recently published in the Journal of Experimental Zoology Part A! In this study, Allison found that juvenile food restriction reduced growth and delayed puberty in both male and female hamsters. This delay in puberty, however, did not affect long-term seasonal reproductive responses to food availability in these animals. Collectively, her results provide insight into how seasonally breeding animals coordinate reproductive development and adult reproductive responses in changing environments.

A link for the manuscript can be found under the “Publications” page and can also be accessed here.

Kat Presents at SBN 2021

Last week, Kat gave a virtual poster presentation at SBN 2021, the Society for Behavioral Neuroendocrinology’s annual meeting! In her presentation, she discussed some of her recent findings on how adrenal and neural 3β-hydroxysteroid dehydrogenase (3β-HSD) activity varies in a seasonal and sex-specific manner in Siberian hamsters. Way to go, Kat!

Kate Publishes Manuscript in Journal of Experimental Zoology Part A

Kate’s manuscript on the repeatability of social and escape behaviors across developmental stages in male and female hamsters was recently published in the Journal of Experimental Zoology Part A! In this study, Kate showed that individuals’ social behavior scores were repeatable within the juvenile stage, but not across developmental stages. In contrast, escape behavior scores were highly repeatable across developmental stages, but males’ scores were more repeatable than females’ scores. Collectively, her results suggest that personality traits associated with social behavior are less stable across development, while behaviors associated with stress could be a more permanent feature of an individual’s behavioral phenotype. In addition, her findings suggest that there are sex differences in the long-term repeatability of personality.

A link for the manuscript can be found under the “Publications” page and can also be accessed here.

Jess Publishes Review in Journal of Experimental Biology

Jess’s review on the use of non-model systems to study microbiome-behavior relationships was recently published in the Journal of Experimental Biology! In her paper, Jess describes the benefits of studying how the gut microbiome influences social behavior using a comparative approach, with a particular focus on how the gut microbiome can affect behavior in the context of development, reproduction, parental care, and cooperation and the novel mechanisms and environmental factors that may influence these microbiome-behavior relationships.

A link for the manuscript can be found under the “Publications” page and can also be accessed here.

Congratulations to our Spring 2021 Graduates!

Congratulations to our spring 2021 graduates: undergraduate students Taylor Deckard, Molly Pendergast, and Andi Nowakowski! All of us in the Demas lab are so proud of all you have accomplished, and we wish you the best of luck on your future endeavors!

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