Whitney Hable


Whitney Hable


Ph.D. University of Arizona 1996 
Plant/algal biology, developmental and marine Biology

Email: whable@umassd.edu
Phone: 508-999-8206 
Office: Violette Research Building, Room 205B

My general research interests are in mechanisms of cell polarization, growth and development, and the role the environment plays in these processes.

Cell polarization, the generation of asymmetry within a cell, is an essential event underlying many biological processes. For example, in plant and animal embryos, polarity is often established in the egg or zygote, and ultimately determines the basic organization of tissues and organs within the organism. I am investigating this process in zygotes of marine brown algae in the genera Fucus and Silvetia, where polarity is established in the zygote by the position of fertilization, and can be reoriented by environmental signals such as unidirectional light. A dynamic actin cytoskeleton is required for both fertilization-induced polarization and light-induced reorientation of polarity. Current research questions include: 1) Which protein pathways regulate the assembly of actin filaments? 2) How do actin regulatory proteins respond to natural environmental cues? 3) How do environmental toxins disrupt polarity establishment and development?

In collaboration with Dr. Ken Oliveira, I am investigating gametogenesis and fertilization in the American eel, Anguilla rostrata. After spending many years in or near freshwater habitats, adults migrate to and spawn in the Sargasso Sea, where investigations of reproductive behavior and early development are not possible. We have developed protocols to induce sexual maturation of both male and female eels, and our research has resulted in the first successful artificial fertilization in this species. Current research questions include: 1) What are the stages and timing of early embryogenesis? 2) What are the effects of pollutants on gametogenesis and fertilization?

 Recent Publications | Graduate Students |  Courses

Laboratory Website www.whitneyhable.weebly.com  

Current Projects

  • Cell Polarization in marine brown algae
  • Gametogenesis and Fertilization in the American Eel 


  • Rover T., Simioni C., Hable W., and Bouzon Z.L. (2015) Ultrastructural and structural characterization of zygotes and embryos during development in Sargassum cymosum (Phaeophyceae, Fucales). Protoplasma, 252: 505-518.
  • Hart P.E. and Hable W.E. Biology of Cells Laboratory Manual. Second Edition. Kendall Hunt Publishing, Dubuque, Iowa, U.S.A. Copyright 2014
  • Hable W.E. (2014) Rac1 signaling in the establishment of the fucoid algal body plan.  Frontiers in Plant Science, doi: 10.3389/fpls.2014.00690.
  • Muzzy R. and Hable W. (2013) Rac1 regulates actin arrays during polarity establishment in the brown alga, Silvetia compressa. Developmental Biology 383:28-38.
  • Hable W.E. and Nguyen X.  (2013) Polychlorinated biphenyls disrupt cell division and tip growth in two species of fucoid algae. Journal of Phycology 49:701-708.
  • Oliveira K. and Hable W.E. (2010) Artificial maturation, fertilization, and early development of the American eel (Anguilla rostrata). Canadian Journal of Zoology 88:1121–1128.
  • Hable W.E and Hart P.E. (2010) Signaling mechanisms in the establishment of plant and fucoid algal polarity. Molecular Reproduction and Development 77:751–758.
  • Muzzy R.A. and Hable W.E. (2008) Rac1 function during fucoid development. Plant Signaling and Behavior 3:717-719.
  • Hable W.E., Reddy S., Julien L. (2008) The Rac1 inhibitor, NSC23766, depolarizes adhesive secretion, endomembrane cycling, and tip growth in the fucoid alga, Silvetia compressa. Planta 227:991-1000.
  • Hadley R., Hable W.E., and Kropf D.L. (2006) Polarization of the endomembrane system is an early event in fucoid zygote development. BMC Plant Biology 6:1-10.
  • Hable W.E., and Kropf D.L. (2005) The Arp2/3 complex nucleates actin arrays during zygote polarity establishment and growth. Cell Motility and the Cytoskeleton 61: 9-20.
  • Bisgrove S.R., Hable, W.E. and Kropf D.L. (2004) +TIPS and microtubule regulation. The beginning of the plus end in plants. Plant Physiol. 136: 3855-3863.
  • Hable W.E., Miller N.R., and Kropf D.L. (2003) Polarity establishment requires dynamic actin in fucoid zygotes. Protoplasma 221: 193-204.
  • Hable W.E. and Kropf D.L. (2000) Sperm entry induces polarity in fucoid zygotes. Development 127: 493-501.

Recent Graduate Students

  • Jessie Lauze, Anthropogenic influences on growth and development of marine rockweeds, Fucus sp., 2013-present
  • Rachel Muzzy, The role of Rac1 during polarity establishment of the fucoid alga, Silvetia compressa, 2007-2012
  • Andrea Carey, Effect of contaminants on the reproductive success of American eels (Anguilla rostrata), 2009-2012


Courses Professor Hable has taught include:

  • Bio 234 Biology of Cells
  • Bio 244 Biology of Cells Laboratory
  • Bio 421 Developmental Biology
  • Bio 434/534 Advanced Cell Biology
  • Bio 525 Graduate Seminar
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