Research in Dr. Jessica Starkey’s laboratory is centered around exploring the impact of nutrition and management strategies on the cellular and molecular regulation of skeletal muscle development and growth. Understanding how muscle-specific stem cells called satellite cells function and respond to different dietary factors, stressors, and management strategies is the primary focus of this lab.
Our research is not limited only to poultry, but includes other livestock species as well. Students in the lab become skilled in multiple molecular and cell biology research techniques, but also receive hands-on training in poultry husbandry and poultry growth performance and metabolism research. The core research techniques used in the lab include, but are not limited to, primary satellite cell isolation and culture, real-time quantitative PCR and pyrosequencing, protein quantification using fluorescence-based Western blotting, tissue cryohistology, traditional paraffin histology, immunofluorescence staining, fluorescence microscopy, and digital image analysis. Dr. Starkey’s research group works in state-of-the-art, recently renovated research facilities which include the Muscle Cell Biology and Fluorescence Microscopy Laboratories, Individual Bird Growth Performance Facility, and AU Poultry and Animal Nutrition Center housed in the Poultry Science Department.
Our overall aim is to conduct experiments that will not only enhance basic scientific knowledge regarding muscle satellite cell function, but that will ultimately be useful in devising production strategies to maximize the efficiency of muscle growth without sacrificing animal health, well-being, or product quality.