Panagiotopoulou Lab - Moving morphology and functional mechanics

In this laboratory, research is focused on assessing the links between the form (morphology), function and pathogenesis of the terrestrial vertebrate musculoskeletal system during feeding and locomotion. Why does the vertebrate musculoskeletal system vary so widely– or in other words, what are the functional and developmental consequences of anatomical variation? Evolutionary history surely has played a huge role in shaping musculoskeletal form, but how do  musculoskeletal mechanics and scaling factors during ontogeny constrain and/or direct the morphology and the composition of musculoskeletal design? To what extent are musculoskeletal design and performance related to disease?

To address these research questions a repertoire of experimental methods, medical imaging techniques, 3D virtual reconstructions & animations, computer simulations and mathematical models is used.

Visit Dr Panagiotopoulou's website

Lab head

My lab consists of passionate and highly motivated young scientists that share an insatiable desire for learning new skills in the field of functional anatomy. Integrating students into research is a necessity for enriching their academic experience beyond the classroom and for creating a vibrant laboratory atmosphere that provides learning opportunities for all.

I am always keen to work with positive students who love science and are open to exploring new experimental and simulation techniques. If this is you, contact me for further discussion.

Honours

Primary Advisor

(2016) Manuel Wailan, School of Biomedical Sciences, UQ

(2016) Chi Ying Ho, School of Biomedical Sciences, UQ

(2015) Hyab Mehari Abraha, School of Biomedical Sciences, UQ

(2014) Maddie Day, School of Biomedical Sciences, UQ

(2014) Grace Jauristo, School of Biomedical Sciences, UQ

(2014) Adrian Malisano, School of Biomedical Sciences, UQ

Associate Advisor

(2017), Cruise Speck, School of Biological Sciences, UQ (50% supervision)

(2016), Sam Belina, School of Biomedical Sciences, UQ (25% supervision)

(2015) Philippa Champerlain, School of Biological Sciences, UQ

MSc

Associate Advisor

(2015) Christina Quah School of Agricultural and Food Sciences, UQ

Ph.D

Primary Advisor

2017-2020 Hyab Mehari Abraha The effect if mandibular fixations on bone mechanics during chewing (Co-supervision with Callum Ross (University of Chicago), Andrea Taylor (Touro University, California) and Associate Advisor Kylie Tucker (UQ)

Associate Advisor

2015-2018 Tianyi Feng Spermatogenesis and Sperm Assessment in the Australian Giant TIger Prawn, Penaeus monodon (Fabricius, 1798) (C0-supervision with Steve Johnston, School of Agriculture and Food Sciences, UQ.

2015-2018 Andrea Jannel Palaeoecological and biomechanical inferences of sauropodan dinosaur tracks from the Lower Cretaceous Broome Sandstone of the Dampier Peninsula, Western Australia (Co-supervision with Steve Salisbury), School of Biological Sciences, UQ.

2010-2014 Dr. Sharon Warner (Co-supervision with Prof. Hutchinson and Dr. Weller, The Royal Veterinary College. UK). Sharon’s PhD work looked into the scaling of foot impact mechanics with the aim of understanding why foot pathologies are so common in large captive mammals. I subsequently focused on mammals with extreme foot design, i.e. horses and elephants, to uncover how variation in foot morphology relates to mechanical function.

3D foot kinematics using bi-planar fluoroscopy and scientific rotoscopy

This project uses bi-planar fluoroscopy (XROMM) and scientific rotoscopy to study the effect of body mass and foot anatomy on the 3D motion of all feet joints in large mammals (ranging from pigs to elephants).

 xromm2

In collaboration with Prof. Hutchinson (The Royal Veterinary College) and Prof. Gatesy(Brown University)

Comparative biomechanics of mammalian feet: an integrative 3D analysis

We developed a novel approach for this study that integrates three-dimensional data from biplanar radiography (XROMM), inverse dynamics, musculoskeletal modelling and finite element analysis to test the hypothesis that the most prevalent pathologies in animal feet occur in anatomical regions that experience the highest stresses during the mid-stance phase of locomotion. We provide our results from the application of this comparative approach to five species of hoofed mammals, ranging from pigs to elephants, to infer how foot form and function evolved, how body size relates to foot mechanics and what the consequences of foot structures and motions are for the risk of pathology.

horse

In collaboration with Prof.Hutchinson and Dr. Rankin (The Royal Veterinary College)

  • Panagiotopoulou O, Rankin JW, Hutchinson JR. Comparative biomechanics and pathology of mammalian feet: an integrative 3D analysis. 10th International Congress of Vertebrate Morphology Abstract Book S-062.

Foot pressure in large mammals during locomotion

Foot diseases are the main cause of mortality in captive large mammals however they are not very common in wild species. This study aims to unravel how captivity has altered foot function and led to pathogeneses.  I hypothesise that wild species have evolved efficient foot designs as adaptations to minimise pressures that can cause tissue damage. I also propose that obesity coupled with substrate properties, inefficient foot care, and lack of exercise upset the natural foot mechanics and lead to tissue disorders in captive animals. My study will create a novel predictive clinical foundation for foot disease and foot care in large mammals and will benefit their health and welfare.

In collaborations with Dr. Pataky (Shinshu University) and Prof. Hutchinson (The Royal Veterinary College)

  • Panagiotopoulou O, Pataky TC, Hill Z, Hutchinson JR (2012). Statistical parametric mapping of the regional distribution and ontogenetic scaling of foot pressures during walking in Asian elephants (Elephas maximus). Journal of Experimental Biology 215 1584-1593

Architecture of the sperm whale forehead facilitates ramming combat

Sperm whaleThis projects applies physical and structural properties of a male sperm whale to computer aided designed finite element models (CAD-FEA) to assess the mechanical function of the sperm whale forehead during ramming. In collaboration with Prof. Carrier (University of Utah) andDr. Spyridis (University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences, Vienna)

Jaw mechanics and dynamics during feeding

My research in feeding mechanics seeks to determine the function of the non human primate chewing apparatus as it relates to dietary ecology, dental morphology and development in adulthood and during ontogeny.

Mandible

The morphology of the lower jaw in non-human primate lineages displays considerable variation inter and intra-specifically. The cause of such variation is multifactorial, yet the functional adaptation of the lower jaw to different dietary categories is thought to be important. Whilst the biomechanical determinants of chewing kinematics and kinetics are important design parameters in the feeding system, poor understanding of those dynamics have made it difficult to address evolutionary and clinical hypotheses on functional mandibular anatomy and chewing mechanics.

Using in vivo experimental techniquesmaterial testingmusculoskeletal simulations and mathematical models I study how the modulation of muscle activity  influences the motion of the jaw and how this interaction affects the mechanics of the mandible and the dental tissues.

This exciting project is in collaboration with Dr. Jose-Iriarte Dias and Prof. Ross (University of Chicago), Dr. Wilshin (The Royal Veterinary College), Prof. Dechow (Baylor School of Dentisty) and Prof. Taylor (Duke University).

Selected peer reviewed papers

Panagiotopoulou O, Pataky TC, Day M, Hensman MC, Hensman S, Hutchinson JR, Clemente CJ. Foot pressure distributions during walking in African elephants (Loxodonta africana). Royal Society Open Science, R. Soc.open sci. 3: 160203. http://dx.doi.org/10.1098/rsos.160203

Panagiotopoulou O, Rankin JW, Gatesy SM, Hutchinson JR. A preliminary case study of the effect of shoe-wearing on the biomechanics of a horse’s foot. PeerJ https://peerj.com/articles/2164/ DOI 10.7717/peerj.2164

Panagiotopoulou O, Spyridis P, Mehari Abraha H, Carrier DR, Pataky TC. (2016). Architecture of the sperm whale forehead facilitates ramming combat. PeerJ 4:e1895; DOI 10.7717/peerj.1895. (PARTIAL IF 2.1)

Warner SE, Pickering P, Panagiotopoulou O, Pfau T, Ren L, Hutchinson JR (2013). Size-related modulation of foot impacts in hoofed mammals by conservation of effective foot mass. PLoS ONE 8(1):e54784 doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0054784. IF 3.23

Panagiotopoulou O, Pataky TC, Hill Z, Hutchinson JR (2012). Statistical parametric mapping of the regional distribution and ontogenetic scaling of foot pressures during walking in Asian elephants (Elephas maximus). Journal of Experimental Biology 215 1584-1593. IF 2.89

Panagiotopoulou O, Cobb SN. (2011). The mechanical significance of morphological variation in the catarrhine mandibular symphysis during mastication. American Journal of Physical Anthropology 146 253-261. IF 2.37

Panagiotopoulou O. 2009. Finite Element Analysis (FEA). Applying an engineering method to functional morphology in anthropology and in human biology. Annals of Human Biology, 36(5): 609-623. IF 1.27

PrePrint

Panagiotopoulou O, Spyridis P, Mehari Abraha H, Carrier DR, Pataky TC. (2016). Architecture of the sperm whale forehead facilitates ramming combat. PeerJ PrePrints 3:e1988 https://doi.org/10.7287/peerj.preprints.1590v1

Panagiotopoulou O, Rankin JW, Gatesy SM, Mehari Abraha H, Janzekovic J, Hutchinson JR (2016). A preliminary case study of the effect of shoe-wearing on the biomechanics of a horse’s foot. PeerJ Preprint 2016:02:9182:0:1 doi:10.7287/peerj.preprints.1779v1

Warner SE, Henry V, Roskilly K, Hildebrandt T, Panagiotopoulou O, Hutchinson JR (2014). Regional variation in digital cushion pressure in the forefeet of horses and elephants. PeerJ PrePrints 2014 2:e231v1 10.7287/peerj.preprints.231v1 (PARTIAL IF 2.1)

Peer Reviewed Published Datasets

Panagiotopoulou O, Spyridis P, Mehari Abraha H, Carrier DR, Pataky T. (2016). Architecture of the sperm whale forehead facilitates ramming combat. Dryad Digital Repository. Available at http:// dx.doi.org/ 10.5061/ dryad.81rp6.

Book chapters

Panagiotopoulou, O. 2008.  Bone: a structure – function approach. In: van Asperen, Becker, Demarchi, Groning, Panagiotopoulou (Eds) Interdisciplinary approaches to reconstructing the past, University of York, pp 93-114.

Conference Proceedings/Published Abstracts

Panagiotopoulou O, Rankin JW, Hutchinson JR. (2015). Biomechanics of mammalian feet during locomotion: an integrative 3D analysis. Faseb Journal 0892-6638

Panagiotopoulou O, Rankin JW, Hutchinson JR (2013). Comparative biomechanics and pathology of mammalian feet: an integrative 3D analysis. 10th International Congress of Vertebrate Morphology Abstract Book S-062.

Warner SE, Pickering P, Panagiotopoulou O, Pfau T, Ren L, Hutchinson JR (2012). Size-related biomechanical constraints on foot impacts in ungulate mammals. Annual Meeting of the Society of Integrated and Comparative Biology 52, E 187.

Panagiotopoulou O, Pataky TC, Hutchinson JR. (2011). Regional plantar pressure distribution during walking in hoofed mammals. Society of experimental biology. Abstract Book 121 (A8.6).

Warner SE, Pickering P, Panagiotopoulou O, Pfau T, Ren L and Hutchinson JR (2011). Frequency content of impact force signals in ungulates. Society of experimental biology Abstract Book 121 (A8.6).

Warner SE, Panagiotopoulou O, Pickering P, Ren L, Pfau T, Hutchinson JR (2010). Scaling of foot impact mechanics in ungulate mammals. Society of experimental biology Abstract Book 123 (A8.66).

Panagiotopoulou O, Cobb SN. (2010).The effect of the spatial demands of the developing dentition on the mechanical performance of the mandibular symphysis in juveniles. American Journal of Physical Anthropology 141 (S50).

Panagiotopoulou O, Cobb SN. (2009a). Anterior mandibular morphology, masticatory biomechanics and dietary reconstructions of fossil hominoids. Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology, 29 (3): 161A.

Panagiotopoulou O, Cobb SN.  (2009b). Testing the adaptive significance of the catarrhine symphysis using Finite Element Analysis. American Journal of Physical Anthropology, 138 (S48):205 (Mildred Trotter Prize).

Find out more about our research environment and how to apply to do a short or long-term research project with us.