The Visual System of the Florida Garfish, Lepisosteus platyrhincus(Ginglymodi) (Part 1 of 2) Academic Article uri icon


  • The retina and choriocapillaris of the Florida garfish, Lepisosteus platyrhincus (Ginglymodi), was examined at the light and electron microscopic levels. The inner limiting membrane is covered by an extensive system of vitreal blood vessels emanating from the hyaloid artery, which enters the eye ventrally at the proximal end of the elongated optic nerve head. Two size classes of ganglion cell soma are segregated by optic axon fascicles and Müller cell endfeet, all of which lie at the level of the ganglion cell layer. A third class of 'displaced' ganglion cells lies at the border of the inner plexiform and inner nuclear layers amidst tightly packed amacrine, bipolar and Müller cell soma. Two layers of horizontal cells lie vitread of a synaptic zone consisting of a complex arrangement of horizontal and bipolar dendrites invaginating rod spherules and cone pedicles to form single and multiple (three to six) synaptic ribbon connections, respectively. Immediately vitread of the photoreceptor nuclei lie a population of 'displaced' bipolars. Three types of photoreceptors are characterised: unequal double cones, single cones (large and small) and rods. These show retinomotor movements where the rods elongate in the light and are masked by the pigment epithelium and contract in the dark as the pigment migrates sclerad. Ultrastructurally, 4 types of dark-staining (osmophilic) granules are described: (1) Small glycogen granules (0.033 microns) aggregated at the bases of the photoreceptor nuclei and larger similar granules (0.078 microns and termed paraboloids) vitread to the ellipsoid; (2) tapetal granules (0.32 microns) distributed throughout the dorsal four-fifths of the retinal pigment epithelium (RPE); (3) pigment granules (0.5-2.0 microns) in the RPE, concentrated in ventral retina; (4) granules or melanosomes (0.813 microns) of the choriocapillaris. The second class of granules constitute a tapetum lucidum eliciting a yellow eyeshine when viewed in the dark. Two other tapeta also exist, a guanine tapetum (irregular guanine crystals) and a tapetum fibrosum (stacks of collagen fibrils). Functional correlations are made, and the putative ancestral (primitive) condition of particular visual characters is established for the ray-finned fishes by out-group comparisons.

publication date

  • 1993