Research Areas and Sub-Specialties

Crustacean Biomineralization and Osmoregulation

Molting Crab

The controlled deposition of minerals by organisms is a widespread function that includes such diverse structures as bones, teeth, scales, spines, shells, spicules, cocoliths, corals and otoliths. While many types of minerals are deposited, calcium salts such as calcium phosphate and calcium carbonate are among the most frequently deposited. The organism exerts control over both the timing of deposition (nucleation) and the final shape of the crystals (crystal growth) as well as sometimes controlling its remodeling or removal. Crustaceans are an excellent organism to use to study calcification because they periodically and predictably form and calcify their exoskeleton making it possible to examine the process along a predictable timeline. Faculty involved in these studies are examining calcification in the blue crab, Callinectes sapidus, using an integrated anatomical, physiological and genetic approach. Faculty, graduate students and undergraduates contribute to these studies and significant progress has been made over the years toward understanding the basic process of biomineralization.

Crustaceans also inhabit a wide variety of habitats, from marine to freshwater and from fully aquatic to semi-terrestrial. As a consequence, they are an excellent animal model for the study of osmotic and ionic regulation. The gills are generally the organs effecting these processes and have been the subject of numerous studies involving their permeability, ion and water transport rates, and the characteristics and localization of their transport enzymes. Crustaceans, such as the blue crab, also vary over three orders of magnitude in size during their life times, and thus provide a unique system in which to study intraspecific scaling with regard to osmoregulation. Faculty, graduate students and undergraduates collaborate on morphological, physiological, biochemical and genetic approaches to this area of research.

Faculty researching this area include:

Participating Faculty
Richard Dillaman
Participating Faculty
Robert Roer
Participating Faculty Thomas Shafer

Stephen Kinsey

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