Dr. Weiming Li, FEJ Fry Chair of Environmental Physiology, is a professor jointly appointed in the Department of Fisheries and Wildlife and the Department of Physiology. He is also a faculty member for the Neuroscience Program and the Ecology, Evolutionary Biology, and Behavior Program. Graduate students advised by him have options to pursue advanced degrees in any of the abovementioned departments and programs.
Our overall objective is to develop a better understanding of fish and lamprey biology. Currently, the primary model for our research is the sea lamprey. Research on this model system has resulted in an array of useful and exciting outcomes. The sea lamprey is an invader of the Great Lakes of North America, and is highly destructive to the fish community. Our results have enabled a large scale field experiment to develop effective and environmentally benign methods to control the sea lamprey. Moreover, the sea lamprey is one of the few extant jawless vertebrate species. Lampreys arose at the advent of vertebrate evolution. Through experimentation with the sea lamprey model, we attempt to infer the origin of vertebrate animals, with a focus on evolution of several physiological mechanisms and gene families. We also use teleost species, such as salmonid and goldfish as models in our research. (Return to Top)
Research Focus 1: Pheromone Communication and Chemical Ecology
We integrate biological and chemical approaches to elucidate the structure and function of pheromones in the sea lamprey, and in salmonid. Examples of research topics and approaches include activity directed identification of pheromone molecules, behavioral responses to pheromones, endocrine responses to pheromones, brain gene expression in responses to pheromones, odorant receptors that respond to pheromones, and evolution of pheromone signals. We also participate in large-scale field studies that develop strategies for using pheromones in management of lamprey populations. Our research on pheromone communication has received funding from the Great Lakes Fishery Commission, National Science Foundation, National Institute of Deafness and other Communication Disorder and the Great Lakes Protection Fund. (Return to Top)
Research Focus 2: Comparative Physiology, Neurobiology, Metabolomics and Medicine
We are broadly interested in integrative biology of lamprey and teleost fish in the context of vertebrate evolution and ecosystem health. Subscribing to Krogh’s Principle, "for such a large number of problems there will be some animal of choice, or a few such animals, on which it can be most conveniently studied” (Krogh 1929), we attempt to take advantage of unique features of lamprey and teleost fish in our study. For example, it was in basal vertebrates such as lampreys that many physiological mechanisms originated, leading to many vertebrate innovations and higher levels of regulatory complexity. We therefore are interested in many aspects of physiological functions in the sea lamprey, such as olfaction, endocrinology and biological rhythms. We also study molecular mechanisms for thiamine deficiency and early mortality syndrome, which is thought to affect and decimate salmon populations in the Great Lakes basin. A third example is the natural biliary atresia in lamprey that could be an effective and efficient disease model for infant biliary atresia and cholestasis. Integrative biological research such as these examples has received funding from the National Science Foundation, Great Lakes Fishery Commission, Great Lakes Protection Fund, and the Bonneville Power Administration. (Return to Top)
Research Focus 3: Sea Lamprey Genomics
The sea lamprey genome is the first Agnathan genome sequenced. Its assembly and other genomic resources have closed a significant gap in genomic resources for chordates. An extensive lamprey genomic resource will enable researchers to dissect the molecular events that led to landmark innovations during vertebrate evolution. We are developing and using lamprey genomic resources to understand the origin and development of regulatory complexity in vertebrate animals, and to develop potential strategies for sea lamprey control in the future. Our genomics research has been funded by the Great Lakes Fishery Commission and the National Institute of General Medical Sciences. (Return to Top)
None at the moment.
Fisheries and Wildlife
College of Agriculture and Natural
Laboratory (142 Giltner Hall) - (517)
Laboratory (158 Giltner Hall) - (517) 432-3314