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Transient photoreception in the hindbrain is permissive to the life history transition of hatching in Atlantic halibut

Eilertsen, Mariann, Valen, Ragnhild, Drivenes, Øyvind, Ebbesson, Lars O.E., Helvik, Jon Vidar
Developmental biology 2018 v.444 no.2 pp. 129-138
Hippoglossus hippoglossus, brain, halibut, hatching, landscapes, life history, neurons, opsin, photoreceptors, yolk sac
In nonmammalian vertebrates, photoreception takes place in the deep brain already early in development, but knowledge is lacking about the functions of these nonvisual photoreceptive systems. Prior to hatching, Atlantic halibut has a transient bilateral cluster of photoreceptive cells in the hindbrain. The cluster is imbedded in a neuronal network projecting to the narrow belt of hatching glands in the yolk sac. In halibut, hatching is inhibited in light and activated by transfer to darkness and c-fos analysis during hatching shows that the hindbrain cluster and hatching glands have neural activation. Unexpectedly, the hindbrain cluster expresses dual photopigments, vertebrate ancient opsin and melanopsin. Evolutionarily, these opsins are believed to belong to different classes of photopigments found in rhabdomeric and ciliary photoreceptors. The concept that an organism develops transient light sensitivity to target critical aspects of life history transitions as hatching provides a fascinating landscape to investigate the timing of other biological events.