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  Skin ultrastructure & neurobiology
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MRC Hanlon People Lydia Mäthger

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List of Publications

After my 'Abitur' in Chemnitz, Germany, I studied Zoology at the University of Sheffield (BSc 1st Class, completed in 1998). I undertook my PhD working with Eric J. Denton at the Marine Biological Association in Plymouth, UK (1998 to 2001; affiliated with the University of Sheffield, advisor John B. Messenger). The focus of my research was on the properties of reflective cells (iridophores) in squid skin. During this time I was funded by the Gottlieb-Daimler und Karl-Benz Stiftung, Germany.

In 2002 I received a Royal Society Post-doctoral Fellowship to work with N. Justin Marshall at the Vision Touch and Hearing Research Centre (VTHRC), Brisbane, Australia. I worked on a variety of projects, including reflective properties of fish and cephalopod iridophores and feathers of birds of paradise.

From 2003 to 2004 I was a Post-doc in Kerstin A. Fritsches’ laboratory (VTHRC), working on vision in green turtles. In August 2004 I joined Roger T. Hanlon’s group, once again working on cephalopods.

Research Interests

The skin of cephalopods (squid, cuttlefish and octopus) contains a number of different structures that are involved in color change. The most superficial layer of the skin is densely packed with chromatophores (pigment containing organs) that are under neural control. Each chromatophore has attached to it numerous muscles and contraction or relaxation of these muscles expands or retracts the chromatophore. By selectively expanding and retracting chromatophores, these animals can put on a variety of spots, lines, bars and squares that are involved in camouflage and signaling. In addition to chromatophores, there are different types of light reflectors, such leucophores, which are broadband reflectors. They reflect all incoming wavelengths and in white light appear as diffuse white reflectors. There are also cells called iridophores, which reflect light by structural interference. These reflectors add color to the overall appearance of the skin, such as red, yellow, green and blue, possibly even UV.

This research focuses on the basis of color patterning in cephalopods. In particular, we are interested in what wavelengths are reflected, absorbed or transmitted and how the different structures (chromatophores, leucophores and iridophores) act together to create body patterns.

Contact Lydia:

ph.(508) 289-7447

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