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
JUL 16, 2018
Plants & Animals
JUL 16, 2018
Endangered Sea Turtle Found Dead Via Beach Chair
In an unfortunate turn of events this weekend, Alabama-based animal conservationists report finding a deceased Kemp’s Ridley Sea Turtle on the shore...
JUL 17, 2018
Plants & Animals
JUL 17, 2018
A Whale's Blowhole Spray Can Say a Lot About it
Whales of all varieties are some of the most frequently-studied marine mammals in the ocean today; and now, animal scientists with the Anderson Cabot Cente...
JUL 23, 2018
Plants & Animals
JUL 23, 2018
These Sneaky Monkeys Scavenge Nuts That Are Pre-Cracked by Predators
Throughout West Africa’s Taï National Park, the miniature mangabey monkey scavenges on the remnants of hard nuts that have been cracked open by...
AUG 21, 2018
Plants & Animals
AUG 21, 2018
Animals Have Changed a Lot Since Humans Began Breeding Them
People first started breeding animals about 10,000 years ago, and it’s safe to say that many bred animals have changed a lot since then. After people...
AUG 28, 2018
Earth & The Environment
AUG 28, 2018
African savannas are emitting three times the CO2 than thought
The Miombo woodlands extend over 2.5 million square kilometers across Africa, passing through Angola, Zambia, Tanzania and Mozambique. This ecosystem provi...
SEP 19, 2018
Plants & Animals
SEP 19, 2018
This African Bird is New to Science, and Conservationists Say It's Already in Trouble
Endemic to Africa’s mid-elevation forest space is the Willard’s Sooty Boubou, a bird species that, up until recently, wasn’t recognized b...
Loading Comments...