Since nutrients and energy are required for most biological functions, changes to nutrient levels affect a wide array of processes. Highly conserved signaling pathways detect and interpret nutrient levels, and convey that information throughout the body to coordinate systems-wide responses. This allows an animal to grow and reproduce when nutrients are plentiful, for instance; conversely, in a nutrient-poor environment, energetic resources may instead be devoted to such processes as maintaining cell quality. It is clearly advantageous for organisms to respond to a stressful environment by postponing procreation until there are more favourable conditions (therefore delaying the age-related decline in reproductive capacity). Furthermore, for organisms to successfully reproduce when they are older, they would also require prolonged maintenance of somatic tissue integrity—which would lead to an extension of lifespan. Therefore, it is perhaps unsurprising that evolutionarily conserved nutrient-sensing signaling pathways affect both reproductive function and age-related physiological changes.
In the Templeman lab, we study signaling pathways and regulatory mechanisms that control cell maintenance, longevity, and the age-related decline in female reproductive capacity. We are particularly interested in how nutrient levels determine reproductive function and health during aging. Our methods are based on genetics, physiology, cell biology, and molecular biology. We use two complementary animal models, the roundworm Caenorhabditis elegans and mice, to investigate age-related changes that span from the molecular and cellular levels to the whole body.
We acknowledge with respect the Lekwungen peoples on whose traditional territory the university stands, and the Songhees, Esquimalt and WSÁNEĆ peoples whose historical relationships with the land continue to this day.