, Volume 230, Issue 3, pp 469-486

Ontogeny of the photoreceptors in the embryonic retina of the viviparous guppy, Poecilia reticulata P. (Teleostei)

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Summary

Ultrastructural analyses of retinal development in the guppy embryo show that at midgestation all types of photoreceptors are differntiated in the fundus, and at birth differentiation extends over the whole retina. Formation of discs of outer segments is more rapid in rods than in cones. Double cones differentiate simultaneously with long single cones and are formed by the adhesion of two primordial inner segments; short single cones develop last. Wherever cones are differentiated, they are arranged in an adult-type square mosaic. The rods in the embryo, as opposed to the adult, are likewise regularly arranged within the mosaic unit.

These results are at variance with the generally held opinion that adult teleosts which possess duplex retinae have larvae with pure cone retinae, and that rods, double cones and mosaics appear in late larval life or only at metamorphosis.

In the double cones of the guppy embryo subsurface cisternae develop along the adjoining primordial inner segments. Additionally, regularly distributed subsurface cisternae are formed in the regions of intimate contact of long single cones with double cones and rods.

We suggest that the early development of rods and double cones, and a square-mosaic with regular distribution of rods and subsurface cisternae, provide the newly born with a fully functional optical apparatus, especially suited to perception of movements. This is necessary for its survival against predatory, especially maternal, attacks.

This work was in part subsidized by a grant from the Medical Research Council of Ireland to Y.W.K.