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"Eyes are the Mirror of the Genes"
"Comparison of Eye Pigment Content in Eye-coloured Mutant Strains of House Cricket (Acheta domesticus)"


Department of Animal Physiology and Ecotoxicology,
Bankowa 9, 40-007 Katowice


Visualization of pteridines on a TLC plate (2)

Description popularizing the research project

Statistics claim that we like the best people with green eyes. Maybe it is so because they are the most rare in the whole human population. Most common are brown eyes. There are corners of the earth where it is the only colour of eyes you will see. Yet nobody seems to be anxious of the fact that every single day hundreds of eyes, green ones, blue ones or brown ones; behold us . It also seems that we are the only or one of few species of the planet that take such a diversity of eye colouration so naturally.
Eye contact really matters for us. When we observe animals , we also look for their eyes . We usually know their colour, especially if the animals are one of the mammals that have accompanied us for millennia like dogs, cats or horses. A much harder challenge is to remember eyes of birds, even of the more common ones like pigeons or ducks. Everybody has seen a lizard or a frog, but do we remember the colour of their eyes? Even harder it would be with insects , even the ones which have been our neighbours for thousands of years.
Insect eyes are famous for their complexity and capabilities far beyond human eyes. Some of them have a 360-degrees field of vision. They can use polarised light and actually see in ultraviolet. With such abilities colour of their eyes seems to be unimportant. Yet it turns out the colour of eyes of some insects, unlike in the general population, is associated with a genetic mutation. Mutant fruit flies of eyes different than the wild ones have been known for a long time. At present, at the University of Silesia in Katowice there is conducted research into naturally brown-eyed house crickets among which there appeared a mutation resulting in white or yellow eyes. Can the crickets see the same? Do they behave the same? Do the brow-eyed individuals avoid their different-looking cousins? Does the eye colour have any other invisible side effects? Maybe the eye colour is a side effect of some interesting mutations.


For many years eye-coloured mutant strains were commonly used as a basic model in insect physiology and molecular biology. Published data show that insect pigments (ommochromes and pteridines) are important for eye functionality and visual stimulus reception. Moreover, pigments synthesis pathways are tightly connected with metabolism of key neurotransmitters (serotonin and dopamine). In 2015 at the Department of Animal Physiology and Ecotoxicology (Faculty of Biology and Environment Protection, University of Silesia) two strains of eye-coloured mutants were isolated - a yellow one and a white one of house crickets (Acheta do-mesticus). There is no data on a similar mutation in house cricket, also there is lack of data about behavioural effect of this kind mutation in hemimetabolic insects. In the research we were using thin layer chromatography (TLC) and spectrophotometric measurements. We demon-strated that insects from yellow strain have no basic ommochromes while white strain has no secondary ommochromes and some pteridine.


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