Rapid evolution of the visual system

A cellular assay of the retina and dorsal lateral geniculate nucleus of the Spanish wildcat and the domestic cat

Robert Williams, C. Cavada, F. Reinoso-Suarez

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

51 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

The large Spanish wildcat, Felis silvestris tartessia, has retained features of the Pleistocene ancestor of the modern domestic cat, F. catus. To gauge the direction and magnitude of short-term evolutionary change in this lineage, we have compared the retina, the optic nerve, and the dorsal lateral geniculate nucleus (LGN) of Spanish wildcats and their domestic relatives. Retinas of the two species have the same area. However, densities of cone photoreceptors are higher in wildcat-over 100% higher in the area centralis- whereas rod densities are as high, or higher, in the domestic lineage. Densities of retinal ganglion cells are typically 20-100% higher across the wildcat retina, and the total ganglion cell population is nearly 70% higher than in the domestic cat. These differences are confined to the populations of beta and gamma retinal ganglion cells. In contrast, the population of alpha cells is almost precisely the same in both species. The wildcat LGN is much larger than that of the domestic cat and contains ~50% more neurons. However, cell size does not differ appreciably in either the retina or LGN of these species. The differences in total numbers of ganglion cells and LGN neurons correspond neatly to the overall decline in brain size in the domestic lineage and to allometric predictions based on average species differences in body size. We suggest that an increase in the severity of naturally occurring cell death is the most plausible mechanism that can account for the rapid evolutionary reduction in cell populations in this feline lineage.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)208-228
Number of pages21
JournalJournal of Neuroscience
Volume13
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 1993

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Geniculate Bodies
Retina
Cats
Retinal Ganglion Cells
Ganglia
Population
Felis
Retinal Cone Photoreceptor Cells
Neurons
Felidae
Body Size
Optic Nerve
Cell Size
Cell Death
Cell Count
Brain

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Neuroscience(all)

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Rapid evolution of the visual system : A cellular assay of the retina and dorsal lateral geniculate nucleus of the Spanish wildcat and the domestic cat. / Williams, Robert; Cavada, C.; Reinoso-Suarez, F.

In: Journal of Neuroscience, Vol. 13, No. 1, 01.01.1993, p. 208-228.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

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