Department of Animal Physiology and Ethology

About Department

Department of Animal Physiology and Ethology applies an integrative and systemic approach to study physiological and behavioural processes in interaction with changes of environmental factors. 

Chronobiology

Our research focuses on synchronization of circadian oscillations in physiological functions because their disturbances are involved in development of several civilization diseases, especially in hypertension and cancer. Understanding of circadian control of physiological processes can reveal causal relationships how rhythmic changes in the environment can be transferred to organ systems and modulate their functions.

Epigenetics

Another fascinating research area is represented by epigenetic mechanisms, which form a physiological and behavioural phenotype. In this area we deal with maternal effects and focus predominantly on hormone testosterone. We use both mammalian (rats) and avian (Japanese quail) models. In mammals we focus on epigenetic modulation of development of cardiovascular (hypertension) and neurological diseases (depression, autism). In the avian model we study maternal "investment" and "copying strategies", which help animals to cope with fluctuations of environmental conditions. 

Ethology

In addition to behavioural research in laboratory rodents and Japanese quail (especially innate and learned behavioural traits) we perform ethological research in semi-captive conditions in Bratislava ZOO. 

Combination of physiological and behavioural approaches is the key aspect of our research. Such complex experimental approach is used for understanding mechanisms underlying cardiovascular diseases (mainly hypertension) and neural symptoms and diseases (depression and autism).

At the Department of Animal Physiology and Ethology we use several modern molecular biology (real time PCR, in situ hybridization) and immunological (western blot, immunofluorescence, flow cytometry, radioimmunoassay) techniques. We have in our disposal modern equipment (Applied Biosystems Step One PCR System, Accurri C6, Cryostat Zeiss, fluorescence microscope Zeiss, ELISA reader, Packard beta counter) to perform above mentioned techniques in biological tissues or in vitro with human umbilical endothelial cells (HUVEC) and stable cell lines (HeLa, BHK). The complex physiological traits are measured by telemetry in conscious animals (Data Sciences International). Moreover, the telemetry approach is combined with behavioural animal testing. This unique combination allows us to estimate physiological and behavioural responses at the same time.

Department of Animal Physiology and Ethology has long lasting and efficient cooperation with  many Institutes of Slovak Academy of Sciences, Clinics in Bratislava as well Universities in abroad (Austria, France, Netherlands, Germany, Czech Republic, Poland).