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  1. Healy, T.M., Tymchuk, W.E., Osborne, E.J. and Schulte, P.M 2010. The heat shock response of killifish (Fundulus heteroclitus): candidate gene and heterologous microarray approaches. Physiological Genomics 41: 171-184
  2. Tymchuk, W., O’Reilly, P. Bittman, J., MacDonald, D., Schulte, P.M 2010. Conservation genomics of Atlantic salmon: Variation in gene expression between and within regions of the Bay of Fundy. Molecular Ecology. 19: 1842-1859
  3. Dalziel, A.C., Rogers S.M. and Schulte, P.M 2009. Linking genotypes to phenotypes and fitness: how mechanistic biology can inform molecular ecology. Molecular Ecology. 18: 4997-5017
  4. Schulte, P.M 2007. Responses to environmental stressors in an estuarine fish: interacting stressors and the impacts of local adaptation. Journal of Thermal Biology 32: 152-161
  5. Fangue, N. A., M. Hofmeister, P. M. Schulte 2006. Intraspecific Variation in Thermal Tolerance and Heat shock Protein Gene Expression in Common Killifish, Fundulus heteroclitus. Journal of Experimental Biology 209: 2859-2872


Patricia Schulte


Office phone: 604-822-4276
Lab phone: 604-822-6759
Research area: Comparative Physiology, Evolution
Lab Members: H. Bryant, W. Cheung, D. Chung, M. Giacomin, T. Gibbons, T. Healy, X. Lin, T. McBryan, D. Metzger, S. Northrup, T. Rodela, N. Schimpf, N. Strowbridge
History: B.Sc., M.Sc. UBC; Ph.D., Stanford

The work in my laboratory is integrative, using approaches including molecular biology, biochemistry, physiology, genomics, population genetics, and evolutionary biology to address the question: what are the physiological adaptations that allow animals to live in particular environments? Using fish as model systems, we take advantage of intraspecific variation (differences between populations of a single species) to study the evolution of the mechanisms that allow animals to respond to a changing environment.

Current Projects in the Laboratory include:

1. Thermal adaptation in common killifish
Common killifish (Fundulus heteroclitus) are found in estuaries and shallow water environments along the East Coast of Canada and the United States. There is a steep thermal gradient along this coast such that populations in Nova Scotia experience environmental temperatures that are more than 10°C lower, on average, than those experienced by populations in Florida. Associated with these thermal differences, there are differences in behaviour, morphology and physiology among these populations which are consistent with adaptation to their local habitat temperatures. Our experiments are designed to investigate the role of changes in gene expression in altering the thermal optima and preferences of fish from different populations, and to understand the mechanistic basis of these differences. We use a combination of population genetics, molecular physiology, and biochemistry to address these questions.

2. Conservation genomics of Atlantic salmon
Populations of Atlantic salmon in the Inner Bay of Fundy on Canada’s Atlantic coast have declined by up to 99% since early 1900s. In order to preserve representatives of the few remaining populations, fisheries managers have established hatchery populations of these fish. However, it is not clear whether these remaining semi-captive populations should be managed separately, because it is not know whether there are any significant adaptive genetic differences among the populations. In addition, there is evidence of that some genes from farmed salmon (which are of European origin) may have entered these populations, further complicating management decisions.

We are using genomics approaches to gain a better understanding of the molecular and physiological differences among these threatened populations, nearby populations of less concern, and aquacultured salmon. Using cDNA microarray technology, we are profiling the expression levels of thousands of genes in fish from these various populations reared in common environments. This work will provide fundamental insights into the processes of local adaptation in these populations, as well as generating important information that can be used by fisheries scientists for management purposes.

3. Evolution of exercise performance in three-spine stickleback
Threespine stickleback (Gasterosteus aculeatus) are found in both freshwater and marine environments throughout the northern hemisphere. In many streams in British Columbia freshwater resident stickleback and anadromous stickleback come into contact, resulting in the formation of hybrid zones between these two forms. Stream and anadromous populations have highly divergent life histories; the stream fish remain stream-residents year round while the andaromous fish migrate from the sea to fresh water for the purpose of reproduction. This anadromous migration brings with it a number of potential stressors in the form of changes in salinity, temperature, and predation and requires marine fish to undertake an energetically costly long-distance migration. Previous work has shown that anadromous stickleback are better “endurance” swimmers than are the freshwater residents, and associated with these differences there are some differences in muscle biochemistry between the two types.

We are using molecular, biochemical, genomic, and physiological approaches, combined with population genetic studies across these hybrid zones to attempt to identify whether genes that are involved in energy metabolism and swimming performance have been subject to selection in stickleback.



NSERC Discovery Accelerator

For Research


Peter Wall Institute for Advanced Studies Early Career Scholar Award

Last updated 7 November 2010