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Adventures in oxygen metabolism.

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Institute of Biochemistry, Carleton University, 1125 Colonel By Drive, Ottawa, ON, Canada K1S 5B6.


Peter W. Hochachka led a grand life of science adventure and left as his legacy a whole new field--biochemical adaptation. Oxygen was at the core of Peter's career and his laboratory made major contributions to our understanding of how animals deal with variation in oxygen availability in many forms. He analyzed the molecular mechanisms that support facultative anaerobiosis, studied muscle exercise metabolism for high speed flight, swimming and running, investigated mammalian diving on many trips to the Antarctic to study Weddell seals, and probed the metabolic and genetic adaptations that provide optimal hypoxia tolerance for humans residing at high altitudes. His work illuminated both biochemical and physiological mechanisms that are used to optimize aerobic metabolism, to compensate for hypoxic insults, and to conserve energy by strong metabolic rate depression under anoxia. His articles, books and lectures galvanized the field with leading-edge insights and theories and he consistently challenged comparative biochemists to use their unique model systems to explore the range and breadth of animal strategies of biochemical adaptation. Lessons drawn from my training in Peter's laboratory have led me on continuing explorations of adaptations in enzyme function, signal transduction, gene expression, and antioxidant defenses ranging over systems of anoxia tolerance, freezing survival, estivation, and mammalian hibernation.

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