Unique Two-Photoreceptor Scanning Eye of the Nematode Mermisnigrescens

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Abir Khalil Mohamed, Carolyn Burr, and A. H. Jay Burr, "Unique Two-Photoreceptor Scanning Eye of the Nematode Mermis nigrescens," The Biological Bulletin 212, no. 3 (June 2007): 206-221. DOI: 10.2307/25066603

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DOI: 10.2307/25066603

A single eye is present in females of the nematode Mermis nigrescens. A pigment cup occupies the entire cross section near the anterior tip of the worm, and the curved cuticle at the tip becomes a cornea. The shading pigment is hemoglobin instead of melanin. The eye has been shown to provide a positive phototaxis utilizing a scanning mechanism; however, the eye's structure has not been sufficiently described. Here, we provide a reconstruction of the eye on the basis of light and electron microscopy of serial sections. Hemoglobin crystals are densely packed in the cytoplasm of expanded hypodermal cells, forming the cylindrical shadowing structure. The two putative photoreceptors are found laterally within the transparent conical center of this structure where they would be exposed to light from different anterior fields of view. Each consists of a multilamellar sensory process formed by one of the dendrites in each of the two amphidial sensory nerve bundles that pass through the center. Multilamellar processes are also found in the same location in immature adult females and fourth stage juvenile females, which lack the shadowing pigment and exhibit a weak negative phototaxis. The unique structure of the pigment cup eye is discussed in terms of optical function, phototaxis mechanism, eye nomenclature, and evolution.

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