Journal of comparative physiology

, Volume 111, Issue 2, pp 209–219 | Cite as

Light-dependent motor activity and photonegative behavior in the eel (Anguilla anguilla L.)

Evidence for extraretinal and extrapineal photoreception
  • Th. van Veen
  • H. G. Hartwig
  • K. Müller


Light-dependent motor activity and phototactic behavior was investigated in 1) untreated, 2) blinded, and 3) blinded and pinealectomized eels (Anguilla anguilla L.). Neither blinding nor blinding combined with pinealectomy interfered with the observed nocturnal motor activity or the photonegative behavior characteristic for the untreated animals. However, an aluminum foil covering the skull of blinded animals altered the light-dependent motor activity pattern in contrast to blinded animals bearing a transparent plastic foil cover. Blinded animals with an aluminum foil covering the brain case exhibited a motor activity pattern resembling arrhythmicity.

The motor activity pattern of 1) untreated, 2) blinded, as well as 3) blinded and pinealectomized eels followed an inversed light regime with a latency of about two days indicating that in the eel light is the dominatingZeitgeber triggering circadian motor activity patterns. The reported findings speak in favor of the existence of photosensitive areas in addition to the lateral eyes and the epiphysis cerebri. From the results of the covering experiments it is clear that these unknown photoreceptor sites must be located in the brain.


Aluminum Motor Activity Aluminum Foil Light Regime Untreated Animal 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Aschoff, J.: Zeitgeber der tierischen Tagesperiodik. Naturwissenschaften41, 49–56 (1954)Google Scholar
  2. Andreasson, S.: Locomotor activity patterns ofCottus poecilopus Heckel andCottus gobio L. (Pisces). Oikos20, 78–94 (1969)Google Scholar
  3. Bagnara, J.T., Hadley, M.E.: Endocrinology of the amphibian pineal. Amer. Zool.10, 201–216 (1970)Google Scholar
  4. Bohun, S., Winn, H.E.: Locomotor activity of the American eel (Anguilla rostrata). Chesapeake Sci.7, 137–147 (1966)Google Scholar
  5. Dodt, E.: Photosensitivity in the teleost,Salmo irideus (Gibbson). Experientia (Basel)19, 642–643 (1963)Google Scholar
  6. Dodt, E.: The parietal eye (pineal and parietal organs) of lower vertebrates. In: Handbook of sensory physiology, Vol. VII/3B (R. Jung, ed), pp. 113–140. Berlin-Heidelberg-New York: Springer 1973Google Scholar
  7. Eriksson, L.-O.: Tagesperiodik geblendeter Bachsaiblinge. Naturwissenschaften59, 219–220 (1972a)Google Scholar
  8. Eriksson, L.-O.: Die Jahresperiodik augenloser und pinealorganloser BachsaiblingeSalvelinus fontinalis Mitchell. Aquilo Ser. Zool.13, 8–12 (1972b)Google Scholar
  9. Eriksson, L.-O.: Diel and annual locomotor activity rhythms in some fresh water fish species with special reference to the seasonal inversion in salmonids. Akademisk Avhandling, Umeå 1975Google Scholar
  10. Frisch, K. von: Beiträge zur Physiologie der Pigmentzellen in der Fischhaut. Pflügers Arch. ges. Physiol.138, 319–387 (1911)Google Scholar
  11. Hamasaki, D.J., Eder, D.J.: Adaptive radiation of the pineal system. In: Handbook of sensory physiology, Vol. VII/5 (F. Crescitelli, ed.). Berlin-Heidelberg-New York: Springer 1976 (in press)Google Scholar
  12. Hoffmann, K.: Temperaturzyklen als Zeitgeber der circadianen Periodik. Verh. dtsch. zool. Ges., Suppl.36, 265–274 (1968)Google Scholar
  13. Kalleberg, H.: Observations in a stream tank of territoriality and competition in juvenile salmon and trout (Salmo salar L. andSalmo trutta L.). Rep. Inst. Freshw. Res. Drottningholm39, 55–98 (1958)Google Scholar
  14. Menaker, M.: Extraretinal light perception in the sparrow. I. Entrainment of the biological clock. Proc. nat. Acad. Sci. (Wash.)59, 414–421 (1968)Google Scholar
  15. Menaker, M.: Synchronization with the photic environment via extraretinal receptors. In: Biochronometry (M. Menaker, ed.), pp. 315–322. Washington: Nat. Acad. Sci. 1971Google Scholar
  16. Müller, K.: Die Tages- und Jahresperiodik der Bachforelle (Salmo trutta L.) am Polarkreis. Aquilo Ser. Zool.8, 50–62 (1969)Google Scholar
  17. Müller, K.: Die Tages- und Jahresperiodik der BuntflossenkoppeCottus poecilopus (Heckel am Polarkreis, Oikos Suppl.13, 108–121 (Copenhagen 1970)Google Scholar
  18. Müller, K.: Ålens årsrytmik vid polcirkeln. Fauna och flora67, 235–236 (1972)Google Scholar
  19. Müller, K.: Seasonal phase shift and the duration of activity time in the burbot,Lota lota (L.) (Pisces, Gadidae). J. comp. Physiol.84, 357–359 (1973)Google Scholar
  20. Müller, K., Schreiber, K.: Eine Methode zur Messung der lokomotorischen Aktivität von Süßwasserfischen. Oikos18, 135–136 (1967)Google Scholar
  21. Motte, I. de la: Untersuchungen zur vergleichenden Physiologie der Lichtempfindlichkeit geblendeter Fische. Z. vergl. Physiol.49, 58–90 (1964)Google Scholar
  22. Oksche, A., Hartwig, H.G.: Photoneuroendocrine systems and the third ventricle. In: Brain-endocrine-interaction II. The ventricular system. (K.M. Knigge et al., eds.), pp. 40–53. Basel: Karger 1975Google Scholar
  23. Oksche, A., Kirschstein, H.: Weitere elektronenmikroskopische Untersuchungen am Pinealorgan vonPhoxinus laevis L. (Teleostei, Cyprinidae). Z. Zellforsch.112, 572–588 (1971)Google Scholar
  24. Richardson, N.E., McCleave, J.D.: Locomotor activity rhythms of juvenile Atlantic salmon (Salmo salar) in various light conditions. Biol. Bull.147, 422–432 (1974)Google Scholar
  25. Rüdeberg, C.: Structure of the pineal organs ofAnguilla anguilla L. andLebistes reticulatus Peters (Teleostei). Z. Zellforsch.122, 227–243 (1971)Google Scholar
  26. Scharrer, E.: Die Lichtempfindlichkeit blinder Elritzen. (Untersuchungen über das Zwischenhirn der Fische). Z. vergl. Physiol.7, 1–38 (1928)Google Scholar
  27. Schwassmann, H.O.: Biological rhythms. In: Fish physiology, Vol. VI (W.S. Hoar, D.J. Randall, eds.), pp. 371–428. New York: Academic Press 1971Google Scholar
  28. Ueck, M.: Vergleichende Betrachtungen zur neuroendokrinen Aktivität des Pinealorgans. Fortschr. Zool.22, 167–203 (1974)Google Scholar
  29. Westin, L.: Locomotor activity patterns of fourhorn sculpin,Myxocephalus quadricornis (L.) (Pisces). Rep. Inst. Freshw. Res. Drottningholm51, 184–196 (1971)Google Scholar
  30. Wever, R.: Virtual synchronization towards the limits of the range of the entrainment. J. theor. Biol.36, 119–132 (1972)Google Scholar
  31. Wurtman, R.J., Axelrod, J., Kelly, D.E. (eds.): The pineal. New York-London: Academic Press 1968Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 1976

Authors and Affiliations

  • Th. van Veen
    • 1
    • 2
    • 3
  • H. G. Hartwig
    • 1
    • 2
    • 3
  • K. Müller
    • 1
    • 2
    • 3
  1. 1.Department of ZoologyUniversity of LundLundSweden
  2. 2.Department of Anatomy and CytobiologyJustus Liebig UniversityGiessenFederal Republic of Germany
  3. 3.Department of BiologyUmeå UniversityUmeåSweden

Personalised recommendations