It’s in the eyes: further insight into the origin of snakes
The eyes of living snakes have an extraordinary diversity of retinal and photoreceptor types, but they are understudied compared with other vertebrates. The EU-funded Snake-eyes project will address this knowledge gap in evolutionary neuroscience by generating the biggest data set to date on the ultrastructure and spatial patterns of gene expression in snakes. Researchers will apply cutting-edge electron microscopy and immunohistochemistry imaging techniques to study "lower" snakes, gaining fresh insights into the structure of the retina, ultrastructure of photoreceptors and expression of opsin genes, and painting a more accurate picture of the retina of the ancestral snake. The project will also generate new data on retinal structure and gene expression in burrowing lizards and snakes and provide, for the first time, information on the circuitry of snake retinas.