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Independent variation of retinal S and M cone photoreceptor topographies: A survey of four families of mammals

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  06 September 2006

PETER KURT AHNELT
Affiliation:
Department of Physiology, Medical University of Vienna, Vienna, Austria
CHRISTIAN SCHUBERT
Affiliation:
Department of Physiology, Medical University of Vienna, Vienna, Austria
ANNA KÜBBER-HEISS
Affiliation:
Department of Veterinary Pathology, Veterinary University Vienna, Vienna, Austria
ALEXANDRA SCHIVIZ
Affiliation:
Department of Physiology, Medical University of Vienna, Vienna, Austria
ELISABETH ANGER
Affiliation:
Department of Physiology, Medical University of Vienna, Vienna, Austria

Abstract

In mammals, cone photoreceptor subtypes are thought to establish topographies that reflect the species-relevant properties of the visual environment. Middle- to long-wavelength-sensitive (M) cones are the dominant population and in most species they form an area centralis at the visual axis. Short-wavelength-sensitive (S) cone topographies do not always match this pattern. We here correlate the interrelationship of S and M cone topographies in representatives of several mammalian orders with different visual ecology, including man, cheetah, cat, Eurasian lynx, African lion, wild hog, roe deer, and red deer. Retinas were labeled with opsin antisera and S and M cone distributions as well as S/M cone ratios were mapped. We find that species inhabiting open environments show M cone horizontal streaks (cheetah, pig, deer). Species living in structured habitats (tiger, lynx, red deer) have increased S cone densities along the retinal margin. In species with active vision (cheetah, bear, tiger, man), S cone distributions are more likely to follow the centripetal M cone gradients. Small species show a ventral bias of peak S cone density which either matches the peak of M cone density in a temporal area centralis (diurnal sciurid rodents, tree shrews) or not (cat, manul, roe deer).

Thus, in addition to habitat structure, physical size and specific lifestyle patterns (e.g. food acquisition) appear to underlie the independent variations of M and S cone topographies.

Type
PHYSIOLOGY/ANATOMY
Copyright
© 2006 Cambridge University Press

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References

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