Dr. Jan Mennigen - Principal Investigator
Our research group is principally interested in the mechanistic basis underlying metabolic phenotypes in the diverse infraclass of teleost fishes. A current focus lies on the role of epigenetic determinants, particularly microRNAs. It is our goal to use basic research findings towards three relevant areas for translation. These are firstly to understand the molecular constraints of nutrient utilization in fish aquaculture species, secondly the investigation of ecotoxicological consequences of aquatic contaminant induced metabolic disruption in teleost fish, and thirdly the utilization of relevant fish models to study human metabolic disease.
Dr. Hyojin Lee - Post-doctoral Fellow 2022-present
My research is based on environmental
toxicology, which have mainly focused on investigating the toxic effects of organic contaminants (Phthalate, OCPs, PCBs, and PFASs) at molecular levels using zebrafish model and multi-omics analysis. I'm working on a project regarding multi-omics-based hazard assessments of PFAS mixture using zebrafish embryos in collaboration with Dr. Jason O'Brien's lab at Environment and Climate Change Canada and Dr. Carol Yauk's lab at uOttawa..
Jory Curry - M.Sc. student 2021-present
In collaboration with Jason O’Brien at the National Wildlife Research Center at ECCC and Dr. Mennigen, I focus on the hypothesis that transcriptomic dose response modelling can be used to identify the most potent gene-set level biological effects caused by the chronic toxicity of chemicals in aquatic model organisms. We aim to elucidate the relationship between transcriptomic points of departure and chronic LOECs, to use as a support tool for risk assessment of compounds with chronic toxicity such as EDCs. NSERC-CGSM funding is gratefully acknowledged.
Dinusha Rajapaksha - Ph.D. student 2023-present
My research will explore the comparative physiology of nonapeptides using zebrafish knock-out lines. A specific focus is placed on reproductive, behavioural and metabolic roles of these peptides.
Nipu Niepukolie - Ph.D. student 2023-present
My research will look at the mechanisms behind intra-, inter- and transgenerational inheritance of metabolic phenotypes through germ cell epigenetic reprogramming in zebrafish, with a special focus on miRNA.
Liam Johnston - MSc student 2023-present
My name is Liam Johnston and I am a Masters student working under Dr. Jan Mennigen and Dr. Jean-Michel Weber. My research is focused on the effects of moderate hypoxia on fuel use and metabolic signalling in rainbow trout, a species that is known to be vulnerable to hypoxia. We will be measuring changes in lactate levels in several tissues and as well as the activity levels of several proteins responsible for hypoxia and lactate signalling. This research will allow us to increase our understanding of the effects of hypoxia on aquatic organisms due to climate change. OGS- funding is gratefully acknowledged.
Lai Wei - 4th Year Honour's student 2023-2024
My research will investigate the effects of methylene blue (MB), an anti-fungal agent widely used in zebrafish husbandry, on zebrafish energy metabolism across different stages of the life cycle. Using key energetic parameters such as oxygen consumption rate, locomotor activity and feed intake, I aim to determine whether changes in energy metabolism following developmental MB exposure persist into adulthood and/or extend into subsequent generations. Additionally, I’m also working on elucidating the mechanisms through which zebrafish larvae sense and respond to nutrients in their environment.
Catherine Cao - 4th Year Honour's student 2023-2024
My research investigates the possible involvement of epigenetic machinery in response to hypoxia in goldfish, Carassius auratus. Specifically, following the recent discovery of histone modifying enzymes and dioxygenases kdm5 and kdm6 as direct oxygen sensors modulating chromatin accessibility, I am probing H3K4me3 and H3Kme27 marks in response to chronic hypoxia in goldfish. This work has the potential to uncover novel HIF-1/HRE independent genome regulation coordinating metabolic plasticity in this champion of hypoxia tolerance.
Anna-Maria Lachowicz-Kolbik- 4th Year Honour's student 2023-2024
My research project tests the hypothesis that oxytocin is necessary and sufficient for the mating-water induced suppression of responses to Schreckstoff in zebrafish. This will be done by analyzing adult WT and oxt -/- knockout zebrafish responses to Schreckstoff assessed as behaviour correlates (through qualifying locomotor/freezing behaviour) and endocrine correlates (quantifying cortisol levels). Together, my work will provide novel insight in the evolutionary origin of modulatory roles of the evolutionarily well-conserved nonapeptide oxytocin (formerly isotocin in teleost fishes) in the integration of reproductive and stress physiology..
Mennigen lab alumni
Dr. Wenqin Tu - Visiting Scholar 2018-2019
I am an ecotoxicologist based at the Jiangxi Academy of Sciences, Nanchang with an interest in fluorinated compound toxicity, which I investigate in the zebrafish model using wet-lab and predictive approaches. In the Mennigen lab, I investigate sublethal metabolic effects of the fluorinated compounds F-53, PFOS and OBS, which have been detected in Chinese aquatic environments. Current position: Group leader at the Jiangxi Academy of Sciences, Nanchang
Giancarlo Talarico - B.Sc. + M.Sc. student 2018-2022
I investigate the role of lactate and lipids on fuel partitioning, specifically glucose flux in rainbow trout in vivo. Using a double cannulation technique, these approaches will complement molecular level (cell singling, gene expression and enzymatic activity) approaches to test the hypothesis that the 'glucose intolerant' phenotype in rainbow trout may be linked to specific metabolite preference and signaling in this model. I am co-supervised by Dr. Weber.
Rubén Martínez López - visit. Ph.D. student 2017-2019
I am a visiting PhD student from Dr. Benjami Piña’s lab at the Spanish National Research Council Environmental Assessment and Water Research Centre in Barcelona, Spain. Co-hosted by the Mennigen and Trudeau labs, I utilize zebrafish, Danio rerio as model system to study endocrine disrupting chemicals using transcriptomic and metabolomic approaches. Current position: Post-doc at CSIC-IDAEA, Barcelona, Spain.
Mais Jubouri - B.Sc. and M.Sc. student 2017-2020
In my M.Sc. project co-supervised by Dr. Mennigen and Dr. Weber, I investigate the hypothesis that nutrient interactions play a role in the glucose intolerant phenotype in rainbow trout. Specifically I combine organismal level approaches investigating the role of specific infused AA on glucose fluxes in rainbow trout with cellular signalling and molecular gene expression endpoints in order to integratively determine the role of specific AA on rainbow trout glucose metabolism. Current position: Laboratory technician, University of Ottawa, ON, Canada.
Becky Clark - Ph.D. student 2019-2020
In my PhD, I investigate developmental, intra-, inter- and transgenerational effects of legacy and emerging contaminants on immune- and metabolic endpoints, and explore possible crosstalk between both systems using rainbow trout and zebrafish models. In addition to using in vivo approaches, I am developing fish cell culture in vitro approaches to complement in vivo studies on the one hand, and to dissociate the role of molecular mechanisms (and microRNAs in particular) in immunotoxic and/or metabolic effects. Current position: Scientist, National Institute for Biological Standards and Control, UK.
Fatameh Pakdelsamadi - 4th Year Honour's student 2022-2023
My research will investigate windows of sensitivity in zebrafish exposure to the pharmaceutical and aquatic contaminant metformin. A focus will be placed on the determination of reproductive and metabolic effects within and between generations.
Kusum Sharma - 4th Year Honour's student and NSERC USRA student 2021-2022
My project aims to determine the mechanistic basis for a reproductive phenotype observed in zebrafish vasotocin (VT) knock-out lines. Specifically, I validate preliminary findings showing a female-specific reproductive phenotype in VT KO fish using a second KO line, and investigate molecular underpinnings by quantifying gene markers of oocyte maturation and relate in the ovary.
Rita Wehbe - 4th Year Honour's student 2021-2022 and summer volunteer
I study the role of nonapeptides on behavioural and endocrine correlates of the zebrafish stress response. Using KO lines, I specifically investigate the role of vasotocin and oxytocin on mounting a (sex-specific) endocrine stress response in response to air-netting stress and Schreckstoff in larval and adult fish. I also investigate behavioural stress responses using the novel tank test paradigm.
Sham Haddad - 4th Year Honour's student 2021-2022 and summer volunteer
My research tests the hypothesis that nanoplastic exposure disrupts zebrafish reproduction by interfering with lipohilic sex pheromone (PGF2alpha) signalling. To this end, I quantify reproductive success and behaviour in zebrafish, assess control and nanoplastic-exposed male zebrafish behavioural responses to PGF2alpha exposure and use immunohistochemistry to probe whether fluorescently labelled nanoplastic particles accumulate in the olfactory epithelium of male zebrafish.
Jacey Chou - 4th Year Honour's student 2020-2021
I will explore reproductive effects of nanoplastics using adult zebrafish. By using a combination of behavioural, histological and biochemical assays, I will assess the effect of nanoplastics on indicators of reproductive success in sexually mature zebrafish and will also assess potential intergenerational effects in offspring at larval and juvenile stages. Current position: M.Ed., University of Toronto, ON, Canada.
Raphaël Chakal - 4th Year Honour's student 2020-2021
I will explore metabolic effects of emerging (nano plastics) and legacy (persistent organic pollutants) alone and in combination using zebrafish larval exposures as a model. By combining organismal level and molecular (epigenetic) endpoint analysis, my work will contribute to the characterization of effects of these contaminants and their mixture on energy metabolism in a relevant model for ecotoxicology and metabolism. Current position: General dentistry (DMD), McGill University, QC, Canada.
Tyler Eng - 4th year Honours student 2019-2020
I am involved in a collaborative project led by Environment and Climate Change Canada exploring metabolic consequences of BDE-47 and nano- plastic exposure in the zebrafish model. In addition to using acute adult zebrafish gene expression approaches to determine whether nano plastics modify uptake an biological activity of BDE-47 in different tissues, I will investigate potential metabolic effects in offspring whose parents have been exposed to BDE-47 developmentally, across their life-cycle or prior to reproduction. Current position: M.Sc. student in Dr. Chan's lab at uOttawa, ON, Canada.
Melissa Allaire-Leung - 4th Year Hon. student 2018-2019
My research projects focuses on the determination of metabolic consequences of developmental exposure of Bisphenol-A (BPA), an endocrine disrupting chemical, at environmentally relevant concentrations in the zebrafish model. I am looking to determine whether short-term exposure during a key developmental period elicits acute or long-term effects on the metabolic phenotype in larvae and adult fish. We have deemed it important to use EE2 as a positive control throughout this study, in order to investigate whether metabolic effects of BPA are mediated by estrogenic compounds. Current position: GECA Environment, Quebec City, QC, Canada.
Alexandria Trahan - 4th Year Hon. student 2018-2019
I am investigating the acute and long-term metabolic effects of embryonic exposure to the plasticizer DEHP, a known endocrine disrupting chemical, in zebrafish. My thesis focuses on determining whether DEHP acts as a metabolic disruptor acutely in larvae and/or programs developmental trajectories towards an altered metabolic phenotype in adult zebrafish. A secondary aspect of my project is to identify whether possible metabolic effects can be linked to an anti-androgenic mode of action, which I test by using flutamide as a positive anti-androgenic control. Current position: Junior Policy Analyst at Natural Resources Canada, Ottawa, ON, Canada.
Adina Gotzmann - 4th Year Honours student 2017-2018
I investigate the nutritional (fasting/refeeding and glucose injection) and endocrine (insulin injection) transcriptional regulation of key metabolic genes as well as insulin cell signalling pathways in liver and muscle of the North Pacific spiny dogfish, Squalus suckleyi. Current position: unknown.
Manuela Fonseca - 2nd Year UROP student 2017-2018
I am involved in the analysis of male zebrafish courtship behaviour in response to pharmacological inhibition of the nonapeptides isotocin and vasotocin in zebrafish, which forms part of Zeinab's M.Sc. project. Current position: Electrical engineering student, uOttawa, ON, Canada.
Dr. Lucie Marandel - Visiting Scholar 2018
I am a group leader at INRA NuMeA, where my research group investigates the role of teleost and salmonid gene paralogues in glucose metabolism in rainbow trout. I additionally use targeted epigenetic profiling to investigate potential contributions of DNA methylation and Histone modifications in rainbow trout glucose metabolism and as tool to probe the feasibility of nutritional programming approaches in rainbow trout. A recent development in my research is the determination of sex specific nutritional programming effects in offspring. Current position: Group leader at INRA NuMeA, St. Pee-sur-Nivelle, France.
Divya Ramachandran - M.Sc. student 2020-2022
I work on the comparative physiology of teleost nonapeptides isotocin and vasotocin (homologous to mammalian oxytocin and vasopressin, respectively) using CRISPR/Cas9 based zebrafish mutant lines. Particular emphasis lies on metabolic, reproductive and social roles as well as investigating the role of teleost nonapeptide systems as mediators of sublethal effects of of aquatic contaminants.
Bailey Bedard - M.Sc. student 2019-2022
Working closely with Dr. Brian Hickey at the River Institute, I am interested in investigating a potential role of bat dietary habits (terrestrial vs. aquatic) in bat mercury biomagnification. Additionally, I strive to investigate the potential use of (epigenetic) molecular markers from minimally invasive hair follicle samples to develop potential novel markers of bat mercury exposure.
Zeinab Altmieme - M.Sc. student 2017-2019
I am interested in the role of nonapeptides in reproductive behaviour in male cyprinid fish. I use the zebrafish model, Danio rerio, to investigate the involvement of the neuropeptides isotocin and vasotocin reproductive behaviour, the reproductive endocrine axis and spawning success. To this end I use immunohistochemistry approaches and pharmacological approaches to investigate behavioural, molecular and endocrine reproductive endpoints. This work also has implications for ecotoxicology work investigating nonapeptide targets of endocrine disrupting chemicals in teleost fish. Current position: Research technician in the Department of Regenerative Medicine at the OHRI, Ottawa, ON, Canada.
Dan Kostyniuk - B.Sc and M.Sc. student 2016-2020
I investigate the nutritional regulation and metabolic function of hepatic microRNAs in rainbow trout, Oncorhynchus mykiss. Specifically, I use molecular, biochemical and bioinformatic methods in vivo and in vitro to identify glucose-regulated microRNAs and to determine whether these miRNAs play a role in ‘glucose intolerance’ in this species. Current position: Technical Support Specialist / Technologist at DNA Genotek, Ottawa, ON, Canada.
Vaibhav Kulkarni - 4th Year Honour's student 2022-2023
Hello, my name is Vaibhav Kulkarni and I am an undergraduate student in the Biology program doing my 4th year Honours Project in Dr. Mennigen’s lab. I will be researching the involvement of histone modifications in chronic hypoxia tolerance in goldfish.
Mélissa Grégoire - 4th Year Honour's student 2020-2021
My project aims to validate a novel insulin receptor antagonist in rainbow trout to support future mechanistic investigation of amino acid effects on glucose homeostasis at the whole organism (metabolic glucose flux analysis) and molecular (cell signalling, gene expression and enzymatic activity) level in rainbow trout. Current position: Plant pathology technician at Canadian Food Inspection Agency, Ottawa, ON, Canada.
Shahd Haddad - 4th Year Honour's student 2020-2021
My project will explore the bioconcentration potential and sublethal effect thresholds of a group of pharmaceuticals called SSRI (selective serotonin re-uptake inhibitors) on multiple levels of biological organization in organisms using a detailed meta-analytical approach. This timely work will integrate data from lab- and field based studies to identify particularly sensitive endpoints and vulnerable species in ecosystems affected by trace SSRI release from waste-water treatment plants. Current position: M.Sc. student in Dr.Karpowicz lab at the University of Windsor, ON, Canada.
Julianne Magnan - 4th year Hon. student 2019-2020
In my project, I aim to provide the first description of DNA methylation dynamics in early rainbow trout development. Given the recent description of large differences in DNA methylation dynamics between teleost models, exemplified by the zebrafish and medaka, this will provide important baseline information for future epigenetic studies in saloionids. Additionally, I am involved in a project profiling social status-dependent effects on the endocrine somatotropic axis in juvenile rainbow trout. Current position: Administrative officer at the Department of National Defence, Ottawa, ON, Canada.
Jordan Corcoran - 4th year Hon. student 2019-2020
In my project I investigate the role of genetic background in different zebrafish strains (TU, AB, WIK) on metabolic phenotype in zebrafish and their response to a suspected metabolic disrupting chemical BDE-47. To this end, I use several organism and tissue level approaches to metabolically phenotype zebrafish in early development. Current position: MSc. student in Dr. Akimenko's lab at uOttawa, ON, Canada.
Kenan Touma - 4th Year Honours student 2018-2019
My project, supervised by Dr. Mennigen and Dr. Gilmour, is focused on testing how the somatotropic axis affects metabolic phenotypes in dominant and subordinate rainbow trout (Onchorynchus mykiss). I will use juvenile rainbow trout as a model to determine whether the GH-IGF axis is differentially regulated at the gene expression and protein level between subordinate and dominant rainbow trout. This will allow improve our understanding of the contribution of this important endocrine axis to the metabolic phenotypes observed in rainbow trout. Current position: M.Sc. student in Dr. Cory Harris' lab, University of Ottawa, ON, Canada.
Christine Hum - 4th Year Honours student 2018-2019
My project investigates the metabolic consequences of the fluorinated compound F-53B, a recently discovered aquatic contaminant in Chinese aquatic systems in developing zebrafish. I use a suite of zebrafish larvae metabolic phenotyping assays in conjunction with gene expression approaches to identify potential effects F-53B as well as the fluorinated compounds PFOS and OBS at concentrations corresponding to 10%, 1% and 0.1% of the identified LC50 concentrations of each compound. Current position: M.Sc. student in John Pezacki's lab at uOttawa, ON, Canada.
Rida Haider - 4th Year Honours student 2017-2018
I investigate the possible role of the nonapeptide isotocin as mediator of reproductive endpoints in response to pheromone signalling in male goldfish, Carassius auratus. I am furthermore interested in investigating the role of social context on the stimulation of the male reproductive axis in the same species. Current position: Policy Analyst Health Canada, Toronto, ON, Canada.
Majd Haddad - 4th Year Honours student 2017-2018
My project co-supervised by Dr. Mennigen and Dr. Trudeau is focused on investigating paternal and maternal inheritance of stress response in zebrafish exposed to the pharmaceutical fluoxetine, an aquatic contaminant in urban watersheds. In this project, I am developing assays for microRNA quantification in zebrafish egg and sperm cells to investigate their possible involvement in maternal or paternal inheritance of contaminant induced alterations in the stress response. Current position: PharmD candidate, Leslie Dan Faculty of Pharmacy, University of Toronto, ON, Canada.
Jessica Zon - 4th Year Honours student 2017-2018
My project co-supervised by Dr. Mennigen and Dr. Trudeau is focused on investigating paternal and maternal mechanisms associated with the intergenerational of altered stress responses in zebrafish offspring derived from parents previously exposed to the pharmaceutical fluoxetine, an aquatic contaminant in urban watersheds. In this project, I am particularly interested in quantifying maternally deposited transcripts involved stress axis programming, as well as transcripts involved in molecular epigenetic pathways. Current position: Lab technician, Department of Genetics and Genome Biology, Sick Kids Hospital, Toronto, ON, Canada.
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