DEC 03, 2016 11:53 AM PST

Powerful New Photoreceptor Found in Roundworms

Researchers have found a new class of photoreceptor protein known as LITE-1 in invertebrates that could be up to 50 times more sensitive than rhodopsin is in the human eye.
 
Reporting in the journal Cell, the researchers have noted that the photoreceptor is reportedly linked to the sense of taste in the creatures, which happened to be roundworms known as nematodes in the study.
 

An example of a nematode.

 Image Credit: Wikipedia

Because these specific roundworms happen to be eyeless, these photoreceptors probably play a big role in their ability to detect light. Notably, as light was flashed at the creatures in the study, they would move the opposite way to get away from it, hence the theory.
 
More interestingly, they absorb two forms of light: UV-A and UV-B. Both have their disliked side effects and can be harmful to human skin, so this breathes new life into research for protecting against them.
 
“Photoreceptors convert light into a signal that the body can use,” study author Shawn Xu said. “LITE-1 is unusual in that it is extremely efficient at absorbing both UV-A and UV-B light—10 to 100 times greater than the two other types found in the animal kingdom: opsins and cryptochromes. The next step is to better understand why it has these amazing properties.”
 
LITE-1 reportedly has a drawback however, as its base protein cannot be split from its chromophore without rendering the photoreceptor completely useless. This isn’t the case with other photoreceptors in the animal kingdom, which can reportedly continue working in a diminished state even after the two are separated.
 
These photoreceptors could be important to study. Their harmful light ray absorbing qualities could help us to genetically engineer better ones in the future that could be used in improving existing technologies, like sunscreens.
 
Because the “genetic code” of these photoreceptor proteins are so much different than that of other photoreceptors found in the animal kingdom, there is a ton of untapped potential in this discovery.
 
It should be interesting to see if this goes any further in scientific development.
 
Source: Science Daily

About the Author
  • Fascinated by scientific discoveries and media, Anthony found his way here at LabRoots, where he would be able to dabble in the two. Anthony is a technology junkie that has vast experience in computer systems and automobile mechanics, as opposite as those sound.
You May Also Like
AUG 29, 2018
Plants & Animals
AUG 29, 2018
Current Animal Conservation Efforts Skip Over Key Habitats, Study Finds
When it comes to animal conservation, opinions vary from one person to the next concerning how to go about it. But a new study published this week in the j...
SEP 10, 2018
Plants & Animals
SEP 10, 2018
The WWF is Outfitting Tanzanian Elephants with Satellite-Trackable Collars
Animal poachers frequently target elephants because their ivory tusks can rake in a significant profit on the black market. But contemporary technological ...
OCT 02, 2018
Plants & Animals
OCT 02, 2018
Despite Popular Belief, Cobra Cannibalism is Somewhat Common
You might’ve heard the expression “dog eat dog,” metaphorically, of course; but how about the one that goes: cobra eat cobra? If not, the...
OCT 09, 2018
Plants & Animals
OCT 09, 2018
Study Suggests Courteous Chimps Live Longer Lives
There are two kinds of chimpanzees in this world: 1) those that act aggressive toward others to assert their dominance over the rest of the troop, and 2) t...
OCT 23, 2018
Plants & Animals
OCT 23, 2018
Chimpanzees Use Olfaction to Discern One Ape From Another
Several mammals in the animal kingdom use olfaction as a means of identifying one individual from another. Canines are perhaps one of the most notable exam...
OCT 29, 2018
Plants & Animals
OCT 29, 2018
Elephants Compress Small Food Bits With Their Trunks Before Picking it Up
It’s no mystery that elephants use their versatile trunks to grab food and stuff it in their mouths; this behavior is frequently seen in nature as th...
Loading Comments...