A team led by Helena Bailes at the School of Biomedical Sciences, University of Queensland, Brisbane, Australia, analysed retinas from Australian lungfish (Neoceratodus forsteri), thought to be the closest living relative to the first terrestrial vertebrates. The researchers then compared these to other fish and amphibian retinas. The DNA of five visual pigment (opsin) genes in the retinas of lungfish reveals that these have more in common with four-legged vertebrates (tetrapods) than with fish retinas.
Although lungfish mainly take in oxygen through their gills like most fish, they can also breathe air if water quality is poor. Lungfish were previously thought to have poor eyesight due to their small eyes, low spatial resolving power, sluggish behaviour in captivity and ability to detect prey using electroreception. N.forsteri inhabits a brightly lit, shallow freshwater habitat similar to the environment from which terrestrial evolution probably occurred. This prompted the team to investigate the complement of opsins expressed in N. forsteri, to trace photoreception's evolution in ancestral tetrapods.
The study paves the way for behavioural work with lungfish to see if they can discriminate between objects based on colour.
"The genus Neoceratodus, of which N. forsteri is the sole survivor, is found in the fossil record from the Lower Cretaceous period 135 million years ago and therefore N. forsteri lays claim to being the oldest surviving vertebrate genus," says Bailes. "The visual system of N. forsteri may represent an evolutionary design most closely reflecting that present just prior to the emergence of land vertebrates in the Devonian period."
The balancing act: An enzyme that links endocytosis to membrane recycling
07.12.2016 | National Centre for Biological Sciences
Transforming plant cells from generalists to specialists
07.12.2016 | Duke University
In recent years, lasers with ultrashort pulses (USP) down to the femtosecond range have become established on an industrial scale. They could advance some applications with the much-lauded “cold ablation” – if that meant they would then achieve more throughput. A new generation of process engineering that will address this issue in particular will be discussed at the “4th UKP Workshop – Ultrafast Laser Technology” in April 2017.
Even back in the 1990s, scientists were comparing materials processing with nanosecond, picosecond and femtosesecond pulses. The result was surprising:...
Have you ever wondered how you see the world? Vision is about photons of light, which are packets of energy, interacting with the atoms or molecules in what...
A multi-institutional research collaboration has created a novel approach for fabricating three-dimensional micro-optics through the shape-defined formation of porous silicon (PSi), with broad impacts in integrated optoelectronics, imaging, and photovoltaics.
Working with colleagues at Stanford and The Dow Chemical Company, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign fabricated 3-D birefringent...
In experiments with magnetic atoms conducted at extremely low temperatures, scientists have demonstrated a unique phase of matter: The atoms form a new type of quantum liquid or quantum droplet state. These so called quantum droplets may preserve their form in absence of external confinement because of quantum effects. The joint team of experimental physicists from Innsbruck and theoretical physicists from Hannover report on their findings in the journal Physical Review X.
“Our Quantum droplets are in the gas phase but they still drop like a rock,” explains experimental physicist Francesca Ferlaino when talking about the...
The Max Planck Institute for Physics (MPP) is opening up a new research field. A workshop from November 21 - 22, 2016 will mark the start of activities for an innovative axion experiment. Axions are still only purely hypothetical particles. Their detection could solve two fundamental problems in particle physics: What dark matter consists of and why it has not yet been possible to directly observe a CP violation for the strong interaction.
The “MADMAX” project is the MPP’s commitment to axion research. Axions are so far only a theoretical prediction and are difficult to detect: on the one hand,...
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07.12.2016 | Health and Medicine
07.12.2016 | Life Sciences
07.12.2016 | Health and Medicine