A comparative analysis of cone photoreceptor morphology in bowhead and beluga whales.

Title

A comparative analysis of cone photoreceptor morphology in bowhead and beluga whales.

Creator

Smith MA; Waugh DA; McBurney DL; George JC; Suydam RS; Thewissen JGM; Crish SD

Publisher

The Journal of Comparative Neurology

Date

2020
2020-12-30

Description

The cetacean visual system is a product of selection pressures favoring underwater vision, yet relatively little is known about it across taxa. Previous studies report several mutations in the opsin genetic sequence in cetaceans, suggesting the evolutionary complete or partial loss of retinal cone photoreceptor function in mysticete and odontocete lineages, respectively. Despite this, limited anatomical evidence suggests cone structures are partially maintained but with absent outer and inner segments in the bowhead retina. The functional consequence and anatomical distributions associated with these unique cone morphologies remain unclear. The current study further investigates the morphology and distribution of cone photoreceptors in the bowhead whale and beluga retina and evaluates the potential functional capacity of these cells' alternative to photoreception. Refined histological and advanced microscopic techniques revealed two additional cone morphologies in the bowhead and beluga retina that have not been previously described. Two proteins involved in magnetosensation were present in these cone structures suggesting the possibility for an alternative functional role in responding to changes in geomagnetic fields. These findings highlight a revised understanding of the unique evolution of cone and gross retinal anatomy in cetaceans, and provide prefatory evidence of potential functional reassignment of these cells.

Subject

cone photoreceptor; magnetosensation; mysticetes; odontocetes; retina

Identifier

Rights

Article information provided for research and reference use only. All rights are retained by the journal listed under publisher and/or the creator(s).

Format

journalArticle

Search for Full-text

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ISSN

1096-9861 0021-9967

NEOMED College

NEOMED College of Pharmacy
NEOMED College of Medicine

NEOMED Department

Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences
Department of Anatomy & Neurobiology

Update Year & Number

January 2021 List

Citation

Smith MA; Waugh DA; McBurney DL; George JC; Suydam RS; Thewissen JGM; Crish SD, “A comparative analysis of cone photoreceptor morphology in bowhead and beluga whales.,” NEOMED Bibliography Database, accessed May 25, 2022, https://neomed.omeka.net/items/show/11499.

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