Dr. Brent Sinclair
Insects at Low Temperatures
Position: Assistant Professor
Office: BGS 2078
Phone: 519-661-2111 ext. 83138
- PhD 2001, University of Otago, New Zealand
- Postdoc, University of Stellenbosch, South Africa
- Postdoc, University of Nevada, Las Vegas
The theme of my research is the biology of arthropods in cold environments, and my research programme actively addresses questions within this theme at scales from molecular biology to macroecology. Because of this broad focus, my laboratory does not specialise in any one or set of techniques, but rather we choose questions, apply techniques where we can, and seek collaborations where required.
The research in my lab falls under five main themes:
Functional Genomics of Cold tolerance
We examine gene expression in relation to cold tolerance in model and non-model organisms to identify candidate genes associated with cold tolerance in insects. Current projects include microarray analysis of responses to cold in Drosophila melanogaster and genes associated with cold tolerance in New Zealand alpine stick insects.
Mechanisms of cold tolerance in insects
We are fascinated with insects that can survive internal ice formation, and investigate this with a range of techniques, including synchrotron x-rays. We are also interested in the mechanisms underlying chill coma in insects, focussing currently on ion-motive ATPases.
Metabolism and gas exchange in insects
Flow-through respirometry is one of the tools we use in the lab, and we like to use this tool to understand insect metabolic responses to low temperatures. We can also use this technique to measure water loss, and we consequently have a side interest in desiccation tolerance of insects.
Ecological consequences of overwintering physiology
We are interested in how energy use and cold exposure over winter affect insect performance. Current projects include building a model of Emerald Ash Borer potential distribution based on cold tolerance; measuring energy consumption overwinter in response to variable climates and the impact of repeated cold exposure on survival and fitness of a range of species.
Evolution of cold tolerance strategies in insects
Little is known about the factors that lead to freezing survival in insects. We have been using multiple Drosophila species as a way to examine cold tolerance in an evolutionary context.
Selected recent publications
- Williams, C.M., Marshall, K.E., MacMillan, H.A. Dzurisin, J.D.K., Hellmann, J.J. & Sinclair, B.J. (2012) Thermal variability increases the impact of autumnal warming and drives metabolic depression in an overwintering butterfly. PLoS ONE 7: e34470.
- Zhang, J., Marshall, K.E., Westwood, J.T., Clark, M.S. & Sinclair, B.J. (2011) Divergent transcriptomic responses to repeated and single cold exposures in Drosophila melanogaster. Journal of Experimental Biology214: 4021-4029.
- Nyamukondiwa, C., Terblanche, J.S., Marshall, K.E. & Sinclair, B.J. (2011) Basal cold- but not heat-tolerance constrains plasticity among Drosophila species (Diptera: Drosophilidae). Journal of Evolutionary Biology24: 1927-1938.
- MacMillan, H.A. & Sinclair, B.J. (2011) The role of the gut in insect chilling-injury: cold-induced disruption of osmoregulation in the fall field cricket, Gryllus pennsylvanicus. Journal of Experimental Biology 214: 726-734.
- Strachan, L.A., Tarnowski-Garner, H.E., Marshall, K.E. & Sinclair, B.J. (2011) The evolution of cold tolerance in Drosophila larvae. Physiological and Biochemical Zoology 84: 43-53.
- MacMillan, H.A. & Sinclair, B.J. Mechanisms underlying insect chill-coma. (2011) Journal of Insect Physiology 57: 12-20.
- Marshall, K.E. & Sinclair, B.J. (2010) Repeated stress exposure results in a survival-reproduction tradeoff in Drosophila melanogaster. Proceedings of the Royal Society B 277: 963-969.
- Sinclair, B.J., Gibbs, A.G., Lee, W.-K., Rajamohan, A., Roberts, S.P. & Socha, J.J. (2009). Synchrotron x-ray visualisation of ice formation in insects during lethal and non-lethal freezing. PLoS ONE 4: e8259.
- Pelini, S.L., Dzurisin, J.D.K., Prior, K.M., Williams, C.M., Marsico, T.D., Sinclair, B.J. & Hellmann, J.J. (2009) Translocation experiments with butterflies reveal limits to enhancement of poleward populations under climate change. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 106: 11160-11165.
This page was last updated on
May 3, 2012
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