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Planarian 'Vision': A Combination of Ocular and Dermal Phototransduction

Faculty Mentor

Dr. Silvia Rossbach


Biological Sciences

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Like many aquatic animals, planarians are strongly photo phobic and quickly seek cover when exposed to light. Traditionally, this negative photo taxis has been assessed using white light, which is an amalgamation of multiple wavelengths. However, many animals are known to have different responses to different wavelengths, suggesting studies using white light may mask more complex behaviors. Furthermore, similar to C. elegans, leeches, and Drosophilalarvae, planarians are capable of non-visual (extraocular) photo transduction. Here, we use a novel a planarian behavioral assay to test differential responses to individual wavelengths. We also examine extraocular responses to light and propose a potential genetic mechanism. Together, our results illustrate the sophistication of the planarian visual system and suggest that planarian photo taxis is more complex than previously thought.

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