The International Journal of Developmental Biology

Int. J. Dev. Biol. 61: 665 - 681 (2017)

Vol 61, Issue 10-11-12

Special Issue: The Amphioxus Model System

Amphioxus photoreceptors - insights into the evolution of vertebrate opsins, vision and circadian rhythmicity

Open Access | Published: 20 December 2017

Jiri Pergner and Zbynek Kozmik*

Laboratory of Transcriptional Regulation, Institute of Molecular Genetics of the Czech Academy of Sciences, Prague, Czech Republic


Studies on amphioxus, representing the most basal group of chordates, can give insights into the evolution of vertebrate traits. The present review of amphioxus research is focused on the physiology of light-guided behavior as well as on the fine structure, molecular biology, and electrophysiology of the nervous system, with special attention being given to the photoreceptive organs. The amphioxus visual system is especially interesting because four types of receptors are involved in light detection – dorsal ocelli and Joseph cells (both rhabdomeric photoreceptors) and the frontal eye and lamellar body (both ciliary photoreceptors). Here, we consider how the available information on photoreceptive organs and light-guided behavior in amphioxus helps generate hypotheses about the history of these features during chordate and subsequently vertebrate evolution.


chordate, opsin evolution, photoreceptor, eye evolution, phototransduction

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