Our lab is interested in how organisms adapt to their ecological or behavioral niche. We emphasize a curiosity-based approach in which specialized, unconventional systems are exploited to reveal fundamental principles in signal transduction, ion channel biophysics, and evolution. We aim to understand how these molecular mechanisms impact organismal physiology and behavior.
"Molecular basis of chemotactile sensation in octopus" - Cell Vol. 183, Issue 3
"Animals display wide-ranging evolutionary adaptations based on their ecological niche. Octopuses explore the seafloor with their flexible arms using a specialized “taste by touch” system to locally sense and respond to prey-derived chemicals and movement. How the peripherally distributed octopus nervous system mediates relatively autonomous arm behavior is unknown. Here, we report that octopus arms use a family of cephalopod-specific chemotactile receptors (CRs) to detect poorly soluble natural products, thereby defining a form of contact-dependent, aquatic chemosensation..."