Paper featured in “Inside JEB”

A male ruby-throated hummingbird (Archilochus colubris) (C) M. Brock Fenton

A newly published paper led by recent MSc graduate Raafay Syed Ali has been featured in “Inside the JEB”

It seems there is no limit to hummingbird superpowers. Blessed with the manoeuvrability of insects and high-speed vision, the nimble birds fuel their whirlwind lifestyle with a diet of sugar-charged nectar. Yet, by night, the animals wind down their metabolism, resorting instead to burning fat. Knowing that the birds must switch their metabolism back in the blink of an eye after their first morning sip of nectar, Ken Welch and Raafay Sayed Ali from the University of Toronto Scarborough, Canada, wondered how the frenetic creatures manage the feat. They explain that mammals depend on a pool of sugar-transporting proteins, known as GLUTs, to maintain the delicate balance between the sugar in their blood and cells. However, hummingbirds lack one essential transporter, GLUT4, which is key for humans and other mammals to regulate their bodies’ sugar use. Intrigued by the birds’ unconventional sugar-charged way of life, Ali, Morag Dick and Welch decided to monitor which GLUTs the birds depend on and where they are produced in the body to learn more about how they manage their sugar levels.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *