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“Why are rods more sensitive than cones?”

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This year we celebrate the 150th anniversary of the paper of Max Schultze, who examined the retinas of a large number of vertebrate species and first proposed the duplex theory of vision, that vertebrate eyes have rods for dim light and cones for bright light and color detection. We now know that this division is fundamental not only to the photoreceptors but to the whole of retinal and visual processing. But why are rods more sensitive, and how did the duplex retina first evolve? Recent research particularly expressing cone proteins in rods or changing the level of protein expression provide a new understanding of the two kinds of photoreceptors and help to explain how gene duplication and the formation of rod-specific proteins produced the duplex retina, which has remained remarkably unchanged in physiology from amphibians to man.

This talk is part of the Craik Club series.

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