Welcome to the Department of Biology

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Biology is the study of life. Its scope extends from molecules to organisms and ecosystems. It deals with fundamental questions such as the origin and evolution of plants and animals, interactions between living organisms and their environment, mechanisms of embryonic development, the structure and function of the living cell, the molecular basis of inheritance, the biochemical and genetic basis of human diseases, and the operation of the brain and the nervous system. Staff of the Biology Department conduct research and offer teaching programs in all these areas. The Department of Biology's well-equipped teaching and research laboratories are located in the Stewart Biology Building and the Bellini Life Sciences Building.

Areas of Research

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Biology in the Media

Marine ecologist, Dr. Jennifer Sunday, is bringing in cutting-edge DNA analysis to the formidable task of tracking ocean species along Canada's Pacific coast.
Using DNA technology to track marine life (McGill, Faculty of Science, Oct. 24, 2018)

The Abouheif Lab is crawling all over the news again with their research on soldier ants! Check out the following media links:
The making of soldier ants (McGill Newsroom, Oct. 2018)
From the Beagle to the bookshelf: Darwin at the McGill Liibrary
(McGill University Library News)
This "Useless" Organ Determines Which Ants Grow Into Large Soldiers (Smithsonian. com)
Montreal biologist resolves Darwin's unanswered question: Why do soldier ants grow so big? (CBC news, Oct. 21, 2018)

Featured Articles

The Abouheif Lab is crawling all over the news again with their research on soldier ants!

  Rajakumar R, Koch S, Couture M, Favé M-J, Lillico-Ouachour A, Chen T, De Blasis G, Rajakumar A, Ouellette D, and Abouheif E. 2018. Social regulation of a rudimentary organ generates complex worker caste systems in ants. Nature [read online]

New work from the Gregor Fussmann Lab in Proceedings of the Royal Society B: One of the basic tenets of ecological theory is that connectivity among small populations over a larger landscape (metapopulations) promote species persistence. In this experiment we investigate to what degree and under what conditions this theory holds true when parasites are added to the equation, using lab-based populations of guppies and their ectoparasite Gyrodactylus turnbulli. We find that parasites also benefit from connectivity through prolonged persistence, and that the outcome of which species “wins” or “loses” in terms of survivorship and morbidity is dependent upon the initial burden and distribution of parasites within the system.

  Microparasite dispersal in metapopulations: A boon or bane to the host population?
By Christina P. Tadiri, Marilyn E. Scott & Gregor F. Fussmann
[read online]

New work from the Alanna Watt lab identifying pathophysiological cellular changes that may contribute to ataxia of the Charlevoix-Saguenay region, or ARSACS. This work arises from a very fruitful collaboration between labs at McGill including the Brais lab (Neurology and Neurosurgery) and the McKinney lab (Pharmacology and Therapeutics).

  Ady, V., Toscano-Márquez, B., Nath, M., Chang, P. K.Y., Hui, J., Cook, A., Charron, F., Larivière, R., Brais, B., McKinney, R.A., and A.J. Watt (2018). Altered synaptic and firing properties of cerebellar Purkinje cells in a mouse model of ARSACS.
[read online]