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We study the influence of hormones, neurotransmitters, and environmental stress on the growth of neurites (axons and dendrites) in crustacean neurons.  Crustacean neurons are ideal biomedical models of neurodegenerative diseases such as Parkinson's and Alzheimer's.  They are structurally and functionally similar to human brain cells and respond similarly to oxidative stress, a factor in many neurological diseases.  We are studying the protective and proliferative influences of MELATONIN, a hormone involved in regulating the circadian and seasonal timing of numerous physiological processes.

Jan Plan 2008: Advanced Neuro Research BI474

MDIBL Summer Sunset: view from the lab 

Jan Plan 2008: BI474 Advanced Neurobiology Research, Mount Desert Island Biological Laboratory

Sponsored by NIH Grant Number P20 RR-016463 from the INBRE Program of the National Center for Research Resources

Neurite Growth at 24 hr: Phase Contrast

Melatonin Receptors - MT1 (green): Confocal

Fiddler Crab Uca pugilator


We study X-organ cells from the X-organ/sinus gland complex of the optic lobes in the eyestalks.  These neurosecretory cells synthesize a variety of neuropeptides important in regulating physiology and growth in crustaceans.  They also respond to numerous neurotransmitters and neuromodulators, making them interesting model systems for the study of neuron growth, development, and disease.                                                                                                  

2008-2009 Research Students:



Vic Gagne, Sharonda Bradley, Sarah Harmon

Escar Kusema            

Annie Laban                   

Ruthie Langton

Max Mutter

Jen Myers

Denis Reyna-Ruiz

Andrea Tilden

Summer 2008:  What we did...

...While waiting for neurites to grow:


Max, Jen, Vic, and Escar: "crab hunting"

Andrea, Queen of Bowling,
showing Vic how to get the right spin

Denis can dance and bowl, but can he sing?



Meredith Crane and Greg Cary

Aubris Pfeiffer

Naomi Appel

Gladys Bigglesworth

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