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Researchers gain focus on a bug with bifocals
Date:8/23/2010

University of Cincinnati researchers are reporting on the discovery of a bug with bifocals such an amazing finding that it initially had the researchers questioning whether they could believe their own eyes. "To the best of our knowledge, this is the first demonstration of truly bifocal lenses in the extant animal kingdom," the researchers state in the Aug. 24 cover feature of the premier life-science journal, Current Biology.

The article is an exploration of two eyes of the larvae of the sunburst diving beetle (Thermonectus marmoratus). The two eyes have the bifocal lens, which the researchers have found in four of the larvae's 12 eyes, says researcher Elke K. Buschbeck, a UC associate professor of biology.

The article explains that using two retinas and two distinct focal planes that are substantially separated, the larvae can more efficiently use these bifocals, compared with the glasses that humans wear, to switch their vision from up-close to distance the better to see and catch their prey, with their favorite food being mosquito larvae.

"In addition, we think that within the principle eyes, separate images of the same object could be focused on each of the two retinas, allowing each eye to function as 'two eyes in one,'" the researchers reveal in the article. The tubular-shaped eyes with the bifocals allow them to efficiently focus onto their two retinas, says Annette Stowasser, a UC biology doctoral student and first author on the paper.

The discovery was made in Buschbeck's lab and was supported by her National Science Foundation CAREER award to recognize the research and teaching talent of young faculty. "We're hoping this discovery could hold implications for humans, pending possible future research in biomedical engineering," Buschbeck says.

"The discovery could also have uses for any imaging technology," adds Stowasser.

Bugs with Bifocals

The sunburst diving beetl
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Contact: Dawn Fuller
dawn.fuller@uc.edu
513-556-1823
University of Cincinnati
Source:Eurekalert

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