The stall protocol: Diapause in the annual killifish (Ep 64)

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How do organisms cope with long periods of tough conditions where regular life is impossible? How do some animals turn down their metabolism to levels so low that they can appear dead? How do animals emerge from such deep, low activity states?

In this episode of Big Biology, we talk with Jason Podrabsky, a professor of biology at Portland State University, about diapause – a remarkable physiological state in which organisms turn down their metabolic rates to a bare minimum. Diapause is a way of living through harsh conditions while spending as little energy as possible. We talk with Jason about how organisms enter diapause, what happens inside them during diapause (more than you would think!), and how they reboot their systems to emerge from diapause. We focus on Jason’s work with the amazing annual killifish. In some species in this group, embryos can go into diapause and survive for months in the dry mud of ephemeral ponds, waiting for the next rain to arrive.

Photo: Claire Riggs and Jason Podrabsky

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