Megan Porter

Assistant Professor

Molecular Evolution; Visual System Evolution.

Contact

Room

EDM 411

Phone

(808) 956-3266

Fax

(808) 956-4745

Academic Degrees

PhD, Brigham Young University (Molecular Evolution & Phylogenetics), 2005

Research Interests

Molecular Evolution; Visual System Evolution.

NSF Grant called 'Sight beyond eyes? The evolution of bioluminescence and light detection in marine deep-sea shrimp (Oplophoidae and Sergestidae)' with Heather Bracken-Grissom, Florida International University, and Tammy Frank, Nova Southeastern University awarded for her work with bioluminescence.

Summary of Grant:

Bioluminescence, which is rare on land, is extremely common in the deep sea, being found in 80% of the animals living between 200 and 1000 m.  These animals rely on bioluminescence for communication, feeding, and/or defense, so the generation and detection of light is essential to their survival.  Our present knowledge of this phenomenon has been limited due to the difficulty in bringing up live deep-sea animals to the surface, and the lack of proper techniques needed to study this complex system.  However, new genomic techniques are now available, and a team with extensive experience in deep-sea biology, vision, and genomics has been assembled to lead this project. This project is aimed to study three questions 1) What are the evolutionary patterns of different types of bioluminescence in deep-sea shrimp? 2) How are deep-sea organisms’ eyes adapted to detect bioluminescence? 3) Can bioluminescent organs (called photophores) detect light in addition to emitting light?  Findings from this study will provide valuable insight into a complex system vital to communication, defense, camouflage, and species recognition.  This study will bring monumental contributions to the fields of deep sea and evolutionary biology, and immediately improve our understanding of bioluminescence and light detection in the marine environment.  In addition to scientific advancement, this project will reach K-college aged students through the development and dissemination of educational tools, a series of molecular and organismal-based workshops, museum exhibits, public seminars, and biodiversity initiatives.  

Selected Publications

Porter, M.L., L. Suarez, A. Kingston, C. Hofmann, E. Cameron, R. McCready, T.W. Cronin, & P.R. Robinson (2014) Characterization of visual pigments, oil droplets, lens and cornea in the whooping crane Grus americana. Journal of Experimental Biology 217(21):3883-3890.

How, M.J.*, M.L. Porter*, A.N. Radford, K.D. Feller, S.E. Temple, R.L. Caldwell, N.J. Marshall, T.W. Cronin, and N.W. Roberts (2014) Out of the blue: The evolution of horizontally polarized signals in Haptosquilla (Crustacea, Stomatopoda, Protosquillidae). Journal of Experimental Biology 217:3425-343. (* co-first authors)

Bok, M.J., M.L. Porter, A.R. Place, and T.W. Cronin (2014) Biological sunscreens tune polychromatic ultraviolet vision in mantis shrimp. Current Biology 24:1636-1642.

Porter, M.L., D.I. Speiser, A.K. Zaharoff, R.L. Caldwell, T.W. Cronin, and T.H. Oakley (2013) The evolution of complexity in the visual systems of stomatopods: Insights from transcriptomics. Integrative and Comparative Biology 53(1):39-49.

Porter, M.L., J.R. Blasic, M.J. Bok, E.G. Cameron, T. Pringle, T.W. Cronin, & P.R. Robinson (2012) Shedding new light on opsin evolution. Proceedings of the Royal Society B 279:3-14.

Porter, M.L., Y.F. Zhang, S. Desai* R.L. Caldwell, & T.W. Cronin (2010) Evolution of anatomical and physiological specialization in the compound eyes of stomatopod crustaceans. Journal of Experimental Biology 213:3473-3486.