[ Back to EurekAlert! ] Public release date: 20-Oct-2008
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Contact: Graeme Baldwin
graeme.baldwin@biomedcentral.com
44-020-707-94804
BioMed Central

The genetic explanation for moles' poor eyesight

Due to their underground habitats, moles' eyes have been modified by natural selection in ways very different from those of surface-dwelling animals. New research, published in the open access journal BMC Biology, features a detailed anatomical and genetic examination of the changes that result from living life in the dark.

A team of researchers led by J Martin Collinson from the University of Aberdeen has carried out the first molecular study of the entire process of lens development in a subterranean animal - the Iberian mole, Talpa occidentalis, which has permanently closed eyes unlike the closely related European mole found in gardens throughout Britain. According to Collinson "Our results show that there are primary developmental defects in the lens of this insectivore. As a result, the adult lens is composed of a disrupted epithelium and a disorganised mass of immature and nucleated fibre cells."

The genetic information the authors amassed shows that the internal defects in the animals' eyes are not the result of an adult degenerative condition but because development of the eye lens fibres, which starts normally, is not completed. The expression of some genes that are central to eye development is also abnormal.

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Notes to Editors

1. The molecular basis of defective lens development in the Iberian Mole
Francisco David Carmona, Rafael Jiménez and Jon Martin Collinson
BMC Biology (in press)

During embargo, article available here: http://www.biomedcentral.com/imedia/2976146802098048_article.pdf?random=70162

After the embargo, article available at journal website: http://www.biomedcentral.com/bmcbiol/

Please name the journal in any story you write. If you are writing for the web, please link to the article. All articles are available free of charge, according to BioMed Central's open access policy.

Article citation and URL available on request at press@biomedcentral.com on the day of publication

2. BMC Biology - the flagship biology journal of the BMC series - publishes research and methodology articles of special importance and broad interest in any area of biology and biomedical sciences. BMC Biology (ISSN 1741-7007) is covered by PubMed, MEDLINE, BIOSIS, CAS, Scopus, EMBASE, Zoological Record, Thomson Reuters (ISI) and Google Scholar. It has an impact factor of 5.06.

3. BioMed Central (www.biomedcentral.com) is an STM (Science, Technology and Medicine) publisher which has pioneered the open access publishing model. All peer-reviewed research articles published by BioMed Central are made immediately and freely accessible online, and are licensed to allow redistribution and reuse. BioMed Central is part of Springer Science+Business Media, a leading global publisher in the STM sector.



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