Navigation Links
UC Santa Barbara researchers discover genetic link between visual pathways of hydras and humans
Date:3/5/2012

(Santa Barbara, Calif.) What good is half an eye? Evolutionary biologists studying the origins of vision get that question a lot, and new research out of UC Santa Barbara points to a possible answer. Findings appearing today in the journal BMC Biology indicate that, even in the absence of eyes altogether, some creatures display a light-sensitivity that uses the same visual pathway that allows humans to see.

Todd Oakley, professor in UCSB's Department of Ecology, Evolution, and Marine Biology, co-authored the paper about the genetic behavior of hydra, a freshwater polyp. Along with jellyfish, sea anemones, and corals, hydra are part of the animal family Cnidaria, who use stinging cells, or cnidocytes, to catch prey. Hydra tentacles contain barbed, poison-containing cnidocytes that they use to stun animals, such as water fleas and plankton, before eating them alive. They also use their cnidocytes for self-defense and locomotion.

The research conducted at UCSB revealed that light, or the lack thereof, has a direct effect on hydras' propensity to fire their stinging cells a discovery Oakley said "tells us something completely new about the biology of these animals, and we think this could extend to other cnidarians."

"Hydra stinging cells were already known to be touch sensitive and taste sensitive, but no one had ever thought before to look for light sensitivity probably because they don't have eyes," Oakley said. "We're the first to have found that. And we found not only that light-sensitivity genes are expressed near hydra stinging cells, but that under different light conditions, these cells have different propensities to be fired."

Studying the hydra in both bright and dim conditions, the researchers discovered that bright light actually inhibits the firing of the stinging cells possibly because their prey are more active at dusk and after sunset, said Oakley. He suggested that light could be acting as "a daily, rhythmic cue" that tells hydra when, and when not, to sting.

The research found that the light-sensitive protein opsin in sensory cells regulates the firing of the hydra's harpoon-like cnidocytes. These same cells are found in the mechanisms hydra use to grasp prey, and to summersault through the water.

The linking of opsin to the stinging cells helps explain how hydra can respond to light despite the absence of eyes, the scientists said, because the sensory neurons also contain the ion channels and additional proteins required for phototransduction the process by which light is converted to electric signals. Phototransduction in humans occurs in the retina.

"I wouldn't call this vision, because as far as we know the hydra are not processing information beyond what's light and what's dark, and vision is much more complicated than that. But these genes that we're studying are the keystones of vision," Oakley said. "For us, as evolutionists, the message is that photoreception can do other things besides just facilitate vision. It can do unexpected things. What good is half an eye? Even without eyes there are other functions for light sensitivity that we may not be thinking of."


'/>"/>

Contact: Shelly Leachman
shelly.leachman@ia.ucsb.edu
805-893-8726
University of California - Santa Barbara
Source:Eurekalert  

Related biology news :

1. Study by UC Santa Barbara researchers suggests that bacteria communicate by touch
2. UC Santa Barbara researchers new study may lead to MRIs on a nanoscale
3. University of California Santa Barbara study reveals how gas, temperature controlled bacterial response to Deepwater Horizon spill
4. Argentinas Santa Fe government reducing lead ammunition for sports hunters
5. New data published in Nature Genetics demonstrate that tiny LNA-based compounds developed by Santaris Pharma A/S inhibit entire disease-associated microRNA families
6. Marine Protected Areas Federal Advisory Committee meets Nov. 2-3 in Santa Barbara
7. Santa Fe homeowners weigh in on landscape preferences
8. Researchers study effect of yuma desalting plant on Cienega de Santa Clara
9. CNIC and Banco Santander set up research project on early cardiovascular risk factors
10. UC Santa Barbara and Burnham Institute for Medical Research announce director
11. Rudolfs kin more than just Santas ride
Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:
Related Image:
UC Santa Barbara researchers discover genetic link between visual pathways of hydras and humans
(Date:2/11/2016)... 2016  Vigilant Solutions announces today that its license plate ... by Lee,s Summit Police Department to ... arrest of a homicide suspect. Kansas City ... 65 square miles and is home to roughly 100,000 residents. ... single mobile license plate reader system and also leverages Vigilant,s ...
(Date:2/8/2016)... PRAGUE, Czech Republic , February 8, 2016 ... first EU-regulated global payment platform which presents innovation ... Voice Biometrics Authentication feature called VoiceKey. --> ... payment platform which presents innovation for clients, comfort ... feature called VoiceKey. --> Worldcore ...
(Date:2/3/2016)... , February 3, 2016 ... market research report "Automated Fingerprint Identification System Market by ... Search), Application (Banking & Finance, Government, Healthcare, and Transportation) ... MarketsandMarkets, the market is expected to be worth USD ... 21.0% between 2015 and 2020. The transformation and technology ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:2/11/2016)... Feb. 11, 2016  Neurocrine Biosciences, Inc. (NASDAQ: NBIX ) ... December 31, 2015. --> --> ... net loss of $29.3 million, or $0.34 loss per share, compared ... share for the same period in 2014. For the year ended ... million, or $1.05 loss per share, as compared to a net ...
(Date:2/11/2016)... and GERMANTOWN, Maryland , ... Frankfurt Prime Standard: QIA) today announced the introduction of ... gene expression profiling, expanding QIAGEN,s portfolio of Sample to ... researchers to select from over 20,000 human genes and ... between genes, cellular phenotypes and disease processes. --> ...
(Date:2/11/2016)... ATLANTA , Feb. 11, 2016  Spectra BioPharma ... Organization (CSO) that provides biopharma companies the experience, ... implement and deploy outsourced sales teams. Created in ... team addresses both the strategic and tactical needs ... innovative sales solutions through both personal and non-personal ...
(Date:2/11/2016)... (PRWEB) , ... February 11, ... ... business-to-business publication dedicated to delivering cutting-edge information focused on the development and ... Sciences to become a premier sponsor of the 2016 BioProcess International Awards ...
Breaking Biology Technology: