Title: Physiological Responses to Rapid Environmental Change – Insights from the Polluted Lives of Atlantic Killifish
Speaker: Dr. Nishad Jayasundara
Talk description: Examining physiological underpinnings of stress responses can provide mechanistic insights into the consequences of global change on species fitness and survival. To uncover traits involved in the organismal response to abiotic stressors, we study organisms living in habitats that are significantly impacted by anthropogenic activities. A key area of our research examines a population of Atlantic killifish, Fundulus heteroclitus, that have evolved resistance to polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), a persistent and ubiquitous toxic chemical. Using killifish and zebrafish models, we integrate functional genomics and physiological approaches to examine the bioenergetic consequences of evolved resistance and exposure to PAHs. Extending from this research, ongoing work is focused on using mitochondria and bioenergetics as indicators and predictors of organismal capacity to maintain fitness in rapidly changing environments.
Bio: Nishad Jayasundara is currently an assistant professor at The School of Marine Sciences at the University of Maine. He is originally from Sri Lanka, and received his BA in Human Ecology, at College of the Atlantic, in ME. Nishad then went on to get a PhD in Biological Sciences, from Stanford University, CA, followed by postdoctoral research at the Duke Superfund Research Center, at Duke University, NC. Nishad is currently in the transition back to Duke, where he will start a new faculty position at the Nicholas School of the Environment to continue his research on physiological responses to changing environments.