It’s been something of a mystery to scientists - how are blind mice able to synchronize their biological rhythms to day and night? New research by a team of scientists, including one from the University of Toronto, seems to have uncovered the answer.
Rods and cones in the outer retina are the eyes’ main photoreceptors, explains Nicholas Mrosovsky, professor emeritus in zoology at U of T. When these rods and cones degenerate, mammals and animals become blind. Despite this, however, some animals can synchronize their biological clocks to the day/night cycle, a problem that has perplexed scientists for the past decade.
"We believed there must be some other specialized receptor for detecting night and day. We now have evidence that this long sought-after photoreceptor is a layer of cells, located in the inner retina, that contain melanopsin, a pigment chemically related to other opsins [a type of protein] found in the rods and cones of the outer retina."
Janet Wong | EurekAlert!
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