University of Calgary

Matt (Mathilakth) Vijayan

  • Professor
  • Tier I CRC Eco & Env Physiol
  • Integrative Cell Biology

Research Interests

My research program is focused on the cellular and molecular mechanisms involved in stress tolerance. Specifically, the goal is to discover novel cellular signaling molecules and transduction pathways activated by stressors, revealing hormonal regulation of these stress adaptive pathways, and the integration of these responses at the whole animal level to regain homeostasis. An overriding theme of my research is to understand the regulatory role of corticosteroids either alone or in conjunction with other endocrine pathways in allowing animals to cope with stress. Broadly the goals are to i) elucidate the pathways that are corticosteroid responsive and critical for developmental programming, growth and metabolism, ii) identify pathways that are sensitive to toxicants (critical window) during the early developmental phase, and iii) determine the long term, including multigenerational, implications on growth and performance associated with endocrine disruption by maternal transfer of xenobiotics in fish. This is currently being explored using a combination of genomics, proteomics, metabolomics and methylomics approaches, along with genetic manipulations, including gene knockout using CRISPR-Cas9 in zebrafish. The whole animal studies utilize a variety of fish species, including zebrafish, fathead minnows and rainbow trout. I am also actively involved in developing molecular and behavioral biomarkers of exposure and effects associated with emerging contaminants in municipal wastewater effluents.


Graduate Students

Graduate Students


Research Theme

Erin Faught


Role of exosome signaling in the stress response

Chinmayee Das


Nongenomic cortisol signaling

W. Andrew Thompson


Antidepressants effect on stress physiology

Analisa Lazaro-Côté


Maternal contaminant transfer and fish development

Marwa Thraya


Membrane corticosteroid receptors

Chris Hooey


MWWE impact on liver transcriptome

Emily Cribb (cosupervision)


Herbicide impact on cellular stress response







Dr. Patrick Gauthier


Behavioural biomarkers for emerging contaminants

Dr. Francisco Mora


Contaminant effect on epigenome modification




UG Honor’s Thesis



Sofia Bahmutsky


Carbamezepine effect on the stress response

Jacques Du Toit


Larval zebrafish as a diabetic model



Selected Publications

Recent publications (2015-2017)

  • Gauthier, P.T. and Vijayan, M.M. (2018). Nonlinear mixed-modelling discriminates the effect of chemicals and their mixtures on zebrafish behaviour. Scientific Reports 8: 1999. doi:10.1038/s41598-018-20112-x
  • Effects of cortisol and lipopolysaccharide on expression of select growth-, stress- and immune-related genes in rainbow trout liver.
    Shepherd BS, Spear AR, Philip AM, Leaman DW, Stepien CA, Sepulveda-Villet OJ, Palmquist DE, Vijayan MM. Fish Shellfish Immunol. 2018 Jan 8;74:410-418. doi: 10.1016/j.fsi.2018.01.003
  • Sadoul, B., Birceanu, O., Aluru, N., Thomas, J.K. and Vijayan, M.M. 2017. Bisphenol A in eggs causes development-specific liver molecular reprogramming in two generations of rainbow trout. Sci. Rep. 7(1): 1431.
  • Philip, A.M., Jørgensen, E.H., Maule, A.G. and Vijayan, M.M. 2017. Extended fasting does not affect the liver innate immune response in rainbow trout. Dev. Comp. Immunol. 79: 67-74.
  • Thompson, W.A., Arnold, V.I. and Vijayan, M.M. 2017. Venlafaxine in embryos stimulates neurogenesis and disrupts larval behaviour in zebrafish. Environ. Sci. Technol. 51 (21): 12889-12897.
  • Best, C., and Vijayan, M.M. 2017. Cortisol elevation post-hatch affects behavioural performance in zebrafish larvae. Gen Comp. Endocrinol. S0016-6480(17)30497-5. doi: 10.1016/j.ygcen.2017.07.009.
  • Jorgensen, E.H., Maule, A.G., Evenset, A. Christensen, G., Bytningsvik, J., Frantzen, M., Nikiforov, V, Faught, E., and Vijayan M.M. 2017. Biomarker response and hypothalamus-pituitary-interrenal axis functioning in Arctic charr from Bjornoya (74°30’N), Norway, with high levels of organohalogenated compounds. Aquat. Toxicol. 187: 64-71.
  • Goncalves, A.F., Neses, J.V., Coimbra, J., Rodrigues, P., Vijayan, M.M. and Wilson, J.M. 2017. Cortisol plays a role in the high environmental ammonia associated suppression of the immune response in zebrafish. Gen. Comp. Endocrinol. 249:32-39.
  • Best C, Kurrasch D.M., and Vijayan MM. 2017. Maternal cortisol stimulates neurogenesis and affects larval behaviour in zebrafish. Scientific Reports; 7: 40905.
  • Faught E., Henrickson L., Vijayan MM. 2017. Plasma exosomes are enriched in Hsp70 and modulated by stress and cortisol in rainbow trout. Journal of Endocrinology; 232 (2): 237-246.
  • Faught E, Vijayan MM, 2016. Mechanisms of cortisol action in fish hepatocytes. Comp. Biochem. Physiol. B, 199: 136-145.
  • Vijayan, MM,  Walsh, PJ, Mommsen, TP. 2016. Endocrine control of metabolism: a tribute to Professor T.W. Moon on the occasion of his retirement. Comp. Biochem. Physiol. B, 199: 1-3.
  • Faught, E., Best, C., and Vijayan, M.M. 2016. Maternal stress-associated cortisol stimulation may protect embryos from cortisol excess in zebrafish. R. Soc. Open sci., 3: 160032.
  • Nesan, D., and Vijayan, M.M. 2016. Maternal cortisol mediates hypothalamus-pituitary-interrenal axis development in zebrafish. Sci. Rep., 6:22582.
  • Dores, R.M., Liang, L., Hollmann, R.E., Sandhu, N., and Vijayan, M.M. 2016. Identifying the activation motif in the N-terminal of rainbow trout and zebrafish melanocortin-2 receptor accessory protein 1 (MRAP1) orthologs. Gen. Comp. Endocrinol., pii: S0016-6480(15)30066-6. doi: 10.1016/j.ygcen.2015.12.031
  • Jorgensen, E.H., Bernier, N.J., Maule, A.G., and Vijayan, M.M. 2015. Effect of long-term fasting and a subsequent meal on mRNA abundances of hypothalamic appetite regulators, central and peripheral leptin expression and plasma leptin levels in rainbow trout. Peptides 86: 162-170.
  • Birceanu, O., Mai, T., and Vijayan, M.M. 2015. Maternal transfer of bisphenol A impacts the ontogeny of cortisol stress response in rainbow trout. Aquat. Toxicol. 168: 11- 18.
  • Philip, A., and Vijayan, M.M. 2015. Stress-Immune-Growth Interactions: Cortisol Modulates Suppressors of Cytokine Signaling and JAK/STAT Pathway in Rainbow Trout Liver. PLOS ONE 10: e0129299.
  • Birceanu, O., Servos, M.R., and Vijayan, M.M. 2015. Bisphenol A accumulation in eggs disrupts the endocrine regulation of growth in rainbow trout larvae. Aquat. Toxicol. 161: 51- 60.
  • Liang, L., Schmid, K., Sandhu, N., Angelson, J.K., Vijayan, M.M. and Dores, R.M. 2015. Structure/function studies on the activation of the rainbow trout melanocortin-2 receptor. Gen. Comp. Endocrinol. 210:145-51

Book chapters

  • Sadoul B., and Vijayan, M.M. 2016. Stress and Growth. Fish Physiology Vol 35: Biology of Stress in Fish. Edited by C.B. Schreck, L. Tort, Farrell, A. and Brauner, C.J. Elsevier, New York. Pp 167-205
  • Faught, E., Aluru, N. and Vijayan, M.M. 2016. The Molecular Stress Response. Fish Physiology Vol 35: Biology of Stress in Fish. Edited by C.B. Schreck, L. Tort, Farrell, A. and Brauner, C.J. Elsevier, New York. Pp 113-166


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