Research in the Wright Lab

Environmental Physiology

Research in the Wright lab is focused on osmoregulation, metabolism, and respiration in aquatic animals. Aquatic animals can live in environments that vary in terms of oxygen concentration, salinity, temperature, and even water availability on a daily or seasonal basis. We are interested in how these environmental factors disturb physiological systems and the mechanisms that aquatic animals employ to compensate for these perturbations. We are studying an unusual self-fertilizing fish, tropical amphibious fish, the mangrove rivulus Kryptolebias marmoratus, to understand how fish out of water osmoregulate, respire and physically support themselves. These studies may help us to understand the mechanisms that evolved in ancient vertebrates that transitioned between water and land. We are also interested in developmental plasticity, that is how the early environment shapes the adult phenotype. Working with trout and zebrafish embryos, we are currently interested in how acute exposure to extreme environmental conditions (e.g. aquatic hypoxia, thermal stress) affects respiration and metabolism of later life stages (collaborator: Dr. Nick Bernier). We study the regulation of nitrogen metabolism and excretion in fishes, especially the role of Rhesus (Rh) glycoproteins in ammonia transport. Working with teleost and elasmobranch model species, we are interested in how Rh glycoprotein expression is altered in the gills and kidneys to cope with physiological perturbations. Taken together, these types of studies provide novel insights into the fundamental mechanisms that aquatic vertebrates use to maintain homeostasis under environmental stress.

Funding

Dr. Wright’s research program is currently funded by the NSERC Discovery Grants Program.