William J. Biggers
Associate Professor of Biology
Ph.D. 1994 University of Connecticut
Comparative invertebrate physiology, Environmental physiology
My research interests are primarily centered around exploring the comparative physiology and biochemistry of juvenile hormones, their mechanisms of action, effects on reproduction and development, and also their occurrence and effects on other invertebrate phyla besides arthropods.
I am very much interested in investigating when juvenile hormones first appeared during evolution. In previous research, I found that juvenile hormones are able to stimulate settlement and metamorphosis of trochophore larvae of the marine annelid Capitella sp. through a chemosensory signal transduction process involving protein kinase C activation and ion channel modulation. We are now taking steps towards understanding this process better. I am interested in how JH induces metamorphosis of this species, as well as the role of nitric oxide in preventing larval settlement. I am also interested in how the regulation of settlement and metamorphosis takes place in other species of marine larvae and insects.
Another research interest is to understand the effects of environmental pollutants on the reproduction and development of invertebrates and their physiology. In previous research we have found contaminating alkylphenols in the blood of lobsters, which may affect their ability to molt. In addition to these avenues, we are actively trying to understand the role of cytokines in the regeneration of planarians and the effect of environmental endocrine disruptors on this process.