The investigation of animal vision provides a unique opportunity to attack a scientific problem with a tremendous variety of techniques from diverse disciplines. In order to truly understand the evolution and function of an eye one must draw upon optics, physiology, neurobiology, ecology, molecular biology, biochemistry, and behavioral approaches. The marine photic environment especially provides a great number of challenges to the function of an animal’s visual systems, and evolution has responded in many faciniting ways. I have always been enamored with the sea, so the study of vision in bizarre marine invertebrates has come as an exciting and fulfilling pursuit.
My previous research with Thomas Cronin in Baltimore concerned the physiological, ecological, and evolutionary basis of ultraviolet vision in mantis shrimp. These pugnacious crustaceans are famous for their violent attack strike and surprisingly complex visual systems. To a vision researcher, the mantis shrimps’ seemingly ridiculous levels of optical and retinal specialization are an endless font of novel discoveries.
My current research in Lund, Sweden with Dan-Eric Nilsson deals with the opposite side of the evolutionary coin regarding eye design. Instead of looking at the most complex and sophisticated eyes nature has produced, I have shifted my attention to some of life’s poorest preforming eyes found in annelid worms and other aquatic invertebrates. I am interested in unraveling the functions and behaviors that drove the evolution of these simple eyes and perhaps also influenced the origins of the very first visual systems.
Video Abstract for my recent paper on mantis shrimp ultraviolet vision:
Full CV:PDF (Updated Oct, 2016)
|Bok, M.J. & D.-E. Nilsson. 2016. Fan worm eyes. Current Biology, 26, R907-R908.|
|Cronin, T.W. & M.J. Bok. 2016. Photoreception and vision in the ultraviolet. The Journal of Experimental Biology, 219: 2790-2801.|
|Bok, M.J., M. Capa & D.-E. Nilsson. 2016. Here, There and Everywhere: The Radiolar Eyes of Fan Worms (Annelida, Sabellidae). Integrative and Comparative Biology, 56(5): 10.1093/icb/icw089.|
|Bok, M.J., M.L. Porter & T.W. Cronin. 2015. Ultraviolet filters in stomatopod crustaceans: diversity, ecology, and evolution. Journal of Experimental Biology, 218(13): 122036.|
|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.|
|Cronin, T.W., M.J. Bok, J.N. Marshall, and R.L. Caldwell. 2014. Filtering and Polychromatic Vision in Mantis Shrimps: Themes in Visible and Ultraviolet Vision. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B Biology, 369: 20130032.|
|Bok, M.J., T.W. Cronin, and K.S. Mead Vetter. 2013. Sense organs and sensory systems. In: Subclass Hoplocarida (Calman, 1904): order Stomatopoda (Latrielle, 1817). Treatise on Zoology – Anatomy, Taxonomy, Biology: The Crustacea. J.C. von Vaupel Klein, M. Charmantier-Daures and F.R. Schram. Eds. Vol. 4A: 179-355. Brill, Leiden.|
|Porter, M.L., J. Blasic, M.J. Bok, E.G. Cameron, T. Pringle, T.W. Cronin, and P.R. Robinson. 2012. Shedding New Light on Opsin Evolution. Proceedings of the Royal Society B, 279: 3-14.|
|Cronin, T.W., M.L. Porter, M.J. Bok, J.B. Wolf, and P.R. Robinson. 2010. The molecular genetics and evolution of colour and polarization vision in stomatopod crustaceans. Ophthalmic and Physiological Optics, 30(5): 460–469.|
|Porter, M.L., M.J. Bok, P.R. Robinson, and T.W. Cronin. 2009. Molecular diversity of visual pigments in Stomatopoda (Crustacea). Vision Neuroscience, 26(3): 255-65.|