Joseph G. Kunkel

UMass Professor Emeritus
Research Professor
University of New England, Biddeford ME

Photograph of First Last
120 Morrill III South

A.B., Columbia College, 1964
Ph.D., Case-Western Reserve University, 1968


1968 Biology, Case-Western Reserve University
1968-1970 Biology, Yale University
1978-1979 Department of Biochemistry, University of California, Berkeley
1986-1987 Physiological Institute, University of Berne, Switzerland
1993-1994 Marine Biological Labs, Woods Hole, MA
2001-2002 Department of Physiology, LMU Munich,Germany
2009-2010 Institute of Polymer Science, JKU Linz, Austria
2012-pres. Pickus Center for Biomedical Research, UNE Biddeford, ME

Research Interests: 

Pattern Formation and Development

Changing patterns of morphological structure, appearance of new macromolecular entities and patterns of localization of macromolecules are hallmarks of the developmental process. In my lab, the expression pattern, structure and function of storage proteins during animal development and mineralization of the skeleton are a major focus. The abundance and large size of storage proteins make them attractive models for studying cellular localization phenomena. Many storage proteins are synthesized in one tissue, secreted into circulation and subsequently taken up by another tissue for utilization. This provides abundant questions of cellular and subcellular mechanisms of spacial and temporal patterns. Several of these proteins have homologues throughout the animal kingdom and the evolution of their structure and regulation interests us. The massive amount of storage proteins that are produced suggests that they are limiting factors in the survival of animals. We have begun a study of natural variation in amounts of stored proteins in eggs and serum of economically important animals. One species, the American lobster, Homarus americanus (Decapoda), is under substantial commercial harvest pressure, natural predation effects as well as global warming effects which are shifting their acceptable environment northward. Understanding how the reproduction and molting processes of the lobster are coordinated is essential to learning how a healthy lobster population can thrive under current predation and environmental pressures.

We also explore the cellular basis of pattern formation in oocytes of the cockroaches Blattella germanica and Periplaneta americana and the amphibian, Xenopus laevis with our studies of ion flux during early development. Our Ion Probe Facility is also being used to explore ionic factors surrounding the rapid growth of pollen tubes and root hair growth in conjunction with the Peter Hepler Lab which is a major force in this field of research.

The evolutionary consequences of pattern regulation are being studied in relation to tetrapod body plan and insect wing venation. Neutral aspects of wing venation are being used to measure phylogenetic and population differences among insects. The sexual dimorphism of Drosophila and Sympetrum species wings are being used to study the evolution and genetic control of subtle morphology.

Bone mineralization is being studied in a variety of model organisms including zebra fish, Brachydanio rerio scales, neonatal mouse bones and decapods.

Teaching Statement: 

I believe that project based learning is a major factor in the education and training of biologists. Each project can call upon a series of theoretical disciplines, math, physics, physiology, biochemistry and behavior for instance, that lead a student to understand the significance of their project and the questions they are asking to advance our understanding of the natural world. The ability to apply those disciplines to their project and communicate to fellow scientists and the public the significance of their work is a major objective.

Representative Publications: 

Hung JT, SE Webb, C Palumbo, AM Lesniak, AM Shipley, A Rubinacci, JG Kunkel, AL Miller (2019). Assessing the ability of zebrafish scales to contribute to the short-term homeostatic regulation of [Ca2+] in the extracellular fluid during calcemic challenges. Fisheries Science 85(6): 943-959. PDF

Dedic C, TS Hung, AM Shipley, A Maeda, T Gardella, AL Miller, P Divieti Pajevic, JG Kunkel, A Rubinacci. (2018). Calcium fluxes at the bone/plasma interface: acute effects of parathyroid hormone (PTH) and targeted deletion of PTH/PTH-related peptide (PTHrP) receptor in the osteocytes. Bone 116: 135-143. PDF

Kunkel JG, M Rosa, B Tarbox, S Hild, MJ Jercinovic, AN Bahadur (2018). Recognizing Incipient Epizootic Shell Disease Lesions in the Carapace of the American Lobster, Homarus americanus, H. Milne Edwards 1837. Bull Mar Sci 94(3):863-886. PDF

Kunkel JG, M Rosa, AN Bahadur. (2016). 3D-Xray-tomography of American lobster shell-structure. An overview. Fisheries Research 186(1): 372-382. PDF

Kunkel JG. (2015). My Adventure Volunteering on NOAA Ships. Fisheries 40(8):360-361. PDF

Kunkel JG, M Rosa, AN Bahadur. (2015). Toward a modern interpretation of the American lobster shell using X-ray tomography. The Lobster Newsletter 28(2):19-21. PDF

Zepeda I, R Sanchez-Lopez, JG Kunkel, LA Banuelos, A Hernandez-Barrera, F Sanchez, C Quinto and L Cardenas. (2014) Visualization of highly dynamic F-actin plus ends in growing Phaseolus vulgaris root hair cells and their responses to Rhizobium etli Nod factors. Plant and Cell Physiology 55(3): 579-591. PDF

Kunkel J.G. (2013) Modeling the Calcium and Phosphate Mineralization of American Lobster Cuticle. Can. J. Fish. Aquat. Sci. 70(11): 1601-1611. preprint PDF Journal Link

Kunkel J.G. and M.J. Jercinovic. (2013) Carbonate apatite formulation in cuticle structure adds resistance to microbial attack for American lobster. Marine Biology Research 9(1): 27-34. PDF

Kunkel J.G., W. Nagel and M.J. Jercinovic. (2012) Mineral Fine Structure of the American Lobster Cuticle. Journal of Shellfish Research 31(2): 515-526. PDF

McKenna S.T., J.G. Kunkel, M. Bosch, C.M. Rounds, L. Vidali, L.J. Winship, P.K. Hepler (2009) Exocytosis Precedes and Predicts the Increase in Growth in Oscillating Pollen Tubes. Plant Cell 21: 1-15. PDF

Marenzana, M., A.M. Shipley, P. Squitiero, J.G. Kunkel, A. Rubinacci. 2005. Bone as an ion exchange organ: evidence for instantaneous cell-dependent calcium efflux from bone not due to resorption. Bone, 37: 545-554. PDF

Kunkel, J.G., S. Cordeiro, Y(J) Xu, A.M. Shipley and J.A. Feijo. 2005. The use of non-invasive ion-selective microelectrode techniques for the study of plant development. Chapter V in Plant Electrophysiology- Theory and Methods ed. by AG Volkov, Springer-Verlag, Berlin/Heidelberg, pp 109-137. PDF

Zydlewski, J., S.D. McCormick and J.G. Kunkel. 2003. Late migration and seawater entry is physiologically disadvantageous for American shad juveniles. Journal of Fish Biology, 63: 1521-1537. PDF

Kunkel, J.G., L.-Y. Lin , Y. Xu, A.M.M. Prado, J.A. FeijÛ, P.P. Hwang and P.K. Hepler. 2001.  "The strategic use of Good buffers to measure proton gradients around growing pollen tubes".  In: Cell Biology of Plant and Fungal Tip Growth.  ed. by A. Geitmann, M. Cresti and I.B. Heath.  IOS Press, Amsterdam, pp 81-94. PDF

Hartling, R.C. and J.G. Kunkel. 1999. Developmental fate of the yolk protein lipovitellin in embryos and larvae of winter flounder, Pleuronectes americanus. J. Exp. Zool., 284: 686-95. PDF

Cardenas, L., Feijo, J.A., Kunkel, J.G., Sanchez, F., Holdaway-Clarke, T., Hepler, P.K., Quinto, C. 1999. Rhizobium nod factors induce increases in intracellular free calcium and extracellular calcium influxes in bean root hairs. Plant J., 19: 347-52. PDF

Feijo, J.A., J. Sainhas, G.R. Hackett, J.G. Kunkel and P.K. Hepler. 1999. Growing pollen tubes possess a constitutive alkaline band in the clear zone and a growth-dependent acidic tip. J. Cell Biol., 144(3): 483-496. PDF

Roy, S.J., Holdaway-Clarke, T.L., Hackett, G.R., Kunkel, J.G.., Lord, E.M., Hepler, P.K. 1999. Uncoupling secretion and tip growth in lily pollen tubes: evidence for the role of calcium in exocytosis. Plant J., 19: 379-386. PDF

Hartling, R.C., J.J. Pereira and J.G. Kunkel. 1997. Characterization of a heat-stable fraction of lipovitellin and development of an immunoassay for vitellogenin and yolk protein in winter flounder (Pleuronectes americanus) J. Exp. Zool., 278: 156-166. PDF

Iyengar, A.R. and J.G. Kunkel. 1995. Follicle cell calmodulin in Blattella germanica: Transcript accumulation during vitellogenesis is regulated by juvenile hormone. Developmental Biology, 170: 314-320. PDF

Kunkel, J.G. and E. Faszewski. 1995. Pattern of potassium ion and proton currents in the ovariole of the cockroach, Periplaneta americana, indicates future embryonic polarity. Biological Bulletin 189: 197-198. PDF

Zhang, Y. and J.G. Kunkel. 1994. Most egg calmodulin is a follicle cell contribution to the cytoplasm of the Blattella germanica oocyte. Developmental Biology, 161: 513-521. PDF

Kunkel, J.G. 1991. Models of pattern formation in insect oocytes. In Vivo, 5: 443-456. PDF