Evolution of Photoreceptors

  • Richard M. Eakin

Abstract

This essay will endeavor to demonstrate the relevance to photoreceptors of the Darwinian dictum: descent with modification. Considering the critical importance of radiant energy for almost all living organisms, it may be assumed that organelles adapted for activation by photons arose very early, perhaps not long after the evolution of the cell itself. These first photoreceptors, which made possible a new way of life, autotrophism, were probably elaborations of the cell membrane, similar perhaps to the vesicles or stacks of lamellae, rich in bacteriochlorophyll, found in the purple bacterium Rhodospirillum (Cohen-Bazire and Kunisawa, 1963; Gibbs, Sistrom, and Worden, 1965). From that point in time, thousands of millennia ago, to the present day most animal and plant photoreceptors have been membranous structures. This feature is the common evolutionary theme (the descent aspect of the dictum) upon which nature has played many variations (the modifications).

Keywords

Luminal Fibril Carotenoid Chitin Kelly 

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Copyright information

© Plenum Press, New York 1968

Authors and Affiliations

  • Richard M. Eakin
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of ZoologyUniversity of CaliforniaBerkeleyUSA

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