University of Adelaide researchers find unusual genes in blind cave beetle

27 Jul 2015

Researchers at the University of Adelaide have made some interesting discoveries about the vision genes of subterranean diving beetles. “Opsin proteins form visual pigments which turn photons of light into a signal that is sent to the brain" Dr Simon Tierney states. "We expect to find expression of opsin in beetles living above ground and active in daylight, but to find them in a species living in the dark is extraordinary. The presence of these gene products is unusual, not only because there is no light to activate the signalling pathways (biochemical cascades) underground, but because these beetles are also eyeless.” (from http://entomologytoday.org/2015/01/30/blind-cave-beetles-lack-eyes-but-still-have-sight-genes/). The article was published in Royal Society Open Science.

Opsin transcripts of predatory diving beetles: a comparison of surface and subterranean photic niches

Simon M. Tierney , Steven J. B. Cooper , Kathleen M. Saint , Terry Bertozzi , Josephine Hyde , William F. Humphreys , Andrew D. Austin
DOI: 10.1098/rsos.140386 Published 28 January 2015

To read more…

ABC Science – 18 MAR 2015
How does evolution explain animals losing vision?
http://www.abc.net.au/science/articles/2015/03/18/4192819.htm

The Conversation – 5 FEB 2015
What blind beetles can teach us about evolution
https://theconversation.com/what-blind-beetles-can-teach-us-about-evolution-36838

ABC Radio National – 28 JAN 2015
Eyeless beetle still has genes for sight
http://www.abc.net.au/radionational/programs/rnafternoons/the-stones-in-oz2c-undercover-bungles2c-drone-wars2c-blind-b/6052416

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