A particular type of DNA in the owl’s eye may be a ‘lens’ that is supercharged night vision. – tech2.org

A particular type of DNA in the owl’s eye may be a ‘lens’ that is supercharged night vision.


Owls are one of the rare avian predators that hold their prey by night, and new research suggests that the way DNA molecules are packaged in their eyes has something special, making them a powerful force in the dark Get visual benefit.

Through the process of natural selection, new studies propose that DNA in the retinal cells of owls can be put together in such a way that it acts as a type of lens or vision enhancer, which allows the eye to be exposed during the night. Improves illumination.

Unusual traits have not been seen before in birds, indicating that owls have gone solo on this particular evolutionary path, at least among birds. The majority of birds are arduous, just as we are – being most active during the day and sleeping all at night.

“In the ancestral branch of the owl, we found traces of positive selection in the development of genes functionally related to visual perception, specifically for phototransside and chromosome packaging,” the researchers wrote in their paper.

The team looked at the genomes of 20 different bird species, including 11 owls, identifying where positive selection had occurred — where mutations beneficial to generations were kept over generations. As expected, much has happened in the areas of sensory perception, which is why owls can hear and see so well.

But the team also discovered signs of accelerated development in 32 genes that were more than a surprise. These genes were linked to DNA packaging and chromosomal condensation – such as the structure of the molecules inside the owl’s eyes that had actually adapted themselves to be able to capture more light.

A similar change in DNA molecule arrangement in retinal cells has been observed previously in nocturnal primates, and computer models of their molecular structure have suggested that they can channel light.

It is not just the evolutionary boost that owls have for undergoing disappointment – they pack retinas with rod cells for better night vision, for example – but it certainly helps capture prey after dark. Will do.

Although the researchers’ claims are fictitious, this is an intriguing idea. Comparison of the genome also supports the idea that owls actually evolved from ancestors that were complete – the biggest changes seen in their genetics as viewing seem to be related to enhancing night-hunting abilities.

While the owl shares the sharpest prey with its prey birds, such as eagles and falcons, researchers found genes that were different from the owls’ ancestors, and one that was presumably soft for their excellent hearing, night vision, and mute May increase wings. Flight. If the findings of the study are confirmed, the DNA molecules still seem to enhance the owl’s excellent vision capabilities.

The authors warn of their proposed roles for distinct genes, only suggestions for the time being, particularly with regard to how photoreceptors actually function in the owl’s eyes. Direct observations and analysis may be able to build on the findings outlined here, and also tell us how the owl derived its evolutionary benefits.

“Our study suggests that novel candidate genes whose role in owl development may be further explored,” the researchers wrote.

The research has been published in Genome Biology and Evolution.

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