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  Dr. Michael Cavey  


Professor Emeritus


B.A. Biology, University of Virginia, 1968
M.S. Zoology/Developmental Biology, University of Washington, 1971
Ph.D. Zoology/Developmental Biology, University of Washington, 1973



Research Interests

My research deals with the development, morphology, and operation of primitive contractile cells, concentrating on the protractor and retractor cells of echinoderm tube-feet and on the diductor and adductor fibers of the brachiopod shell. These primitive cells, called myoepithelial cells, possess little or no connective tissue, and they lack the junctions associated with cell-to-cell communication. Intimate contacts between myoepithelial cells and nerve cells have never been observed in these organisms. These myoepithelia, owing to their associations with calcareous structures, have been difficult specimens to examine microscopically. It is now possible, however, to decalcify the skeletal elements by suspension of specimens in ascorbic acid (vitamin C). This technique preserves both the fine structural details and the relationships between cells and soft extracellular materials.

Goals of the echinoderm research are to expand and consolidate our structural appreciation of protractor and retractor cells in the four echinoderm groups (sea stars, brittle stars, sea cucumbers, and sea urchins) with locomotor tube-feet; to learn how retractor cells insert into the skeletal ossicles of sea stars, brittle stars, and sea cucumbers; to analyze the nervous tissue in the sea-star ray on the basis of neurotransmitter content; to localize and describe synaptic junctions between motor axons and the protractor and retractor cells; to elucidate the cellular events of excitation-contraction coupling; and to generate baseline electrophysiology on the sea-star retractor cells and explore the possibility that stretch is the operative mechanism in cell-to-cell communication.

Objectives of the brachiopod research are to make detailed morphological comparisons of the diductor and adductor fibers; to investigate the possibility that fibers arise from cells of the mantle epithelium (as well as from cells of the coelomic lining); to assess the junctions that affix fibers to one another and/or facilitate the intercellular spread of excitation; to learn how diductor and adductor fibers bind to tendons and to valves of the shell in the absence of connective-tissue coverings; to better appreciate the relative contributions of cells, connective-tissue fibers, and calcareous plates to the operation of this myoepithelio-skeletal system; to identify axons serving the diductor and adductor bundles; and to localize and characterize the synapses between nerve cells and the diductor and adductor fibers.



Selected publications

  • To, T.H., T.L. Brenner, M.J. Cavey, and J. L. Wilkens.  2004. Histological organization of the intestine in the crayfish Procambarus clarkii. Acta Zoologica (Stockholm). 85: 119-130.
  • Shinozaki, T., J.L. WIlkens, T. Yazawa, M.J. Cavey and H.E.D.J. ter Keurs.  2004. The steady-state force-Ca2+ relationship in intact lobster (Homarus americanus) cardiac muscle.  J. Comp. Physiol. B 174: 407-414.
  • Arai, M.N., Cavey, M.J., Moore, B.A. 2001. Morphology and distribution of a deep-water narcomedusa (Solmarisidae) from the northeast Pacific. Scientia Marina, 64 (Suppl. 1): 55-62.
  • Yazawa, T., J.L. Wilkens, H.E.D.J. ter Keurs and M.J. Cavey. 1999. Structure and contractile properties of the ostial muscle (ostium orbicularis) in the heart of the American lobster. J. Comp. Physiol. B. 169:529-537.
  • Cavey, M.J. 1998. Neuromyoepithelial relationships in the starfish ambulacrum and excitation-contraction coupling among the podial retractor cells. In R. Mooi and M. Telford (eds.), Echinoderms: San Francisco. Rotterdam: A.A. Balkema, pp. 215-219.
  • Wilkens, J.L., G.W. Davidson and M.J. Cavey. 1997. Vascular peripheral resistance and compliance in the lobster Homarus americanus. J. Exp. Biol. 200: 477-485.
  • Wilkens, J.L., T. Yazawa and M.J. Cavey. 1997. Evolutionary derivation of the American lobster cardiovascular system: an hypothesis based on morphological and physiological evidence. Invert. Biol. 116: 30-38.
  • Cavey, M.J. 1994. Spermatogenesis in the ovotestes of the solitary ascidian Boltenia villosa. In W.H. Wilson, Jr., S.A. Stricker, and G.L. Shinn (eds.), Reproduction and Development of Marine Invertebrates. Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins University Press, pp. 64-76.
  • Cavey, M.J. and K. Märkel. 1994. Echinoidea. In F.W. Harrison and F.-S. Chia (eds.), Microscopic Anatomy of Invertebrates, Volume 14 (Echinodermata). New York: Wiley-Liss, pp. 345-400.




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