Journal of Comparative Physiology A

, Volume 170, Issue 4, pp 479–489 | Cite as

Regulation of melatonin production by light, darkness, and temperature in the trout pineal

  • Marianna Max
  • Michael Menaker


The pineal gland of the rainbow trout, Salmo gairdneri, when kept under in vitro perifusion culture conditions, displays a consistently elevated level of melatonin production in darkness (Gern and Greenhouse 1988). Upon light exposure melatonin production falls and stabilizes at a new lower level that is dependent upon the irradiance of the stimulus. To achieve the maximal response for each irradiance, the duration of the stimulus must exceed 30 min. The response amplitude is maximally sensitive to photons presented over durations of 30–45 min; is very insensitive to shorter light exposures; and is maintained with no evidence of adaptation over longer exposures. Temperature plays a role in regulation of melatonin production both in darkness and during light exposure; increased temperature increases melatonin production in darkness and also increases the sensitivity of the response to light. The action spectrum for the response is best fit by the Dartnall nomogram for a vitamin A1 based rhodopsin with peak sensitivity near 500 nm. The possible adaptive significance of control of melatonin synthesis by light and temperature is considered.

Key words

Pineal Melatonin Photoreceptor Trout Temperature 



light∶dark cycle








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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 1992

Authors and Affiliations

  • Marianna Max
    • 1
  • Michael Menaker
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of BiologyUniversity of VirginiaCharlottesvilleUSA

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