Organismal Physiology

To explore the functions of cells, organs, tissues, and organisms, from bacteria, fungi, insects, animals, and humans.


Our research seeks to understand how environmental cues, ecotoxicology and endogenous programmes interact to regulate homeostatic and rheostatic processes. Using laboratory-based, domestic and wild animals our work seeks to identify how organisms adapt to local conditions and climates. In addition, this research theme encompasses the endogenous processes that contribute to and may limit productivity in production animals. 

The experimental research tools used in our research range from genomic, epigenomic, molecular and cellular levels, through to circuit, system, whole animal and population levels. We use a range of in vitro, in vivo, and in silico approaches to uncover novel mechanism that support health and wellbeing in animals and as a model for humans. 

We use a range of non-traditional model organisms such as the Siberian hamster (Phodopus sungorus), Domestic sheep (Ovis aries), Japanese quail (Coturnix coturnix), chickens (Gallus domesticus) and cattle (Bos taurus).

Relevant Publications

Bao R, Onishi KG, Tolla E, Ebling FJP, Lewis JE, Barrett PJ, Prendergast BJ, Stevenson TJ. 2019. Genome sequencing and transcriptome analyses of the Siberian hamster hypothalamus identify mechanisms for seasonal energy balance. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 116:13116-13121.

Dunn, I. C., Woolliams, J. A., Wilson, P. W., Icken, W., Cavero, D., Jones, A. C., Quinlan-Pluck, F., Williams, G. O. S., Olori, V. and Bain, M. M. (2019) Genetic variation and potential for genetic improvement of cuticle deposition on chicken eggs. Genetics Selection Evolution, 51(1), 25.

Filisa P, Walker N, Robertson L, Eaton-Turner E, Ramona L, Bellingham M, Amezaga MR, Zhange Z, Mandon-Pepin B, Evans NP, Sharpe MR, Cotinot C, Rees WD, O'Shaughnessy PJ, Fowler PA. 2019 Long-term exposure to chemicals in sewage sludge fertilizer alters liver lipid content in females and cancer marker expression in males. Environment International 124: 98–108.

Jonsson NN, Kleen JL, Wallace RJ, Andonovic I, Michie C, Farish M, Mitchell M, Duthie CA, Jensen DB, Denwood MJ. 2019. Evaluation of reticuloruminal pH measurements from individual cattle: sampling strategies for the assessment of herd status. The Veterinary Journal, 243:26-32.

Hamilton AW, Davison C, Tachtatzis C, Andonovic I, Michie C, Ferguson HJ, Somerville L, Jonsson NN. 2019. Identification of rumination in cattle using support vector machines with motion-sensitive bolus sensors. Sensors, 19:E1165.

Bellingham M, Mandon-Pepin B, Kyle CE, Evans NP, Sharpe RM, Cotinot C, Rhind SM, Fowler PA. 2017 Timing of maternal exposure and fetal sex determine the effects of low-level chemical mixture exposure on the fetal neuroendocrine system in sheep. Journal of Neuroendocrinology, 28, 10.1111/jne.12444

Stevenson TJ. 2018 Epigenetic regulation of biological rhythms: an evolutionary ancient molecular timer. Trends in Genetics, 43:90-100.

Evans NP, Bellingham M, Robinson JE. 2016. Prenatal programming of neuroendocrine reproductive function. Theriogenology 86: 340-348.

Hill DL, Pillay N, Schradin C, 2015. Alternative reproductive tactics in female striped mice: solitary breeders have lower corticosterone levels than communal breeders. Hormones and Behavior, 71, pp.1-9.

Hill DL, Lindström J, McCafferty DJ, Nager RG, 2014. Female but not male zebra finches adjust heat output in response to increased incubation demand. Journal of Experimental Biology, 217:1326-1332.

Stevenson TJ, Prendergast BJ. 2013. Reversible DNA methylation regulates seasonal photoperiodic time measurement. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 110:16651-16656.