Implication of the visual system in the regulation of activity cycles in the absence of solar light: 2-[I-125]iodomelatonin binding sites and melatonin receptor gene expression in the brains of demersal deep-sea gadiform fish

I G Priede, L M Williams, H J Wagner, A Thom, I Brierley, M A Collins, S P Collin, N R Merrett, C Yau

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

17 Citations (Scopus)


Relative eye size, gross brain morphology and central localization of 2-[I-125]iodomelatonin binding sites and melatonin receptor gene expression were compared in six gadiform fish living at different depths in the north-east Atlantic Ocean: Phycis blennoides (capture depth range 265-1260 m), Nezumia aequalis (445-1512 m), Coryphaenoides rupestris (706-1932 m), Trachyrincus murrayi (1010-1884 m), Coryphaenoides guentheri (1030 m) and Coryphaenoides (Nematonurus) armatus (2172-4787 m). Amongst these, the eye size range was 0.15-0.35 of head length with a value of 0.19 for C.(N.) armatus, the deepest species. Brain morphology reflected behavioural differences with well-developed olfactory regions in P.blennoides, T.murrayi and C. (N.) armatus and evidence of olfactory deficit in N. aequalis, C. rupestris and C. guentheri. All species had a clearly defined optic tectum with 2-[I-125] iodomelatonin binding and melatonin receptor gene expression localized to specific brain regions in a similar pattern to that found in shallow-water fish. Melatonin receptors were found throughout the visual structures of the brains of all species. Despite living beyond the depth of penetration of solar light these fish have retained central features associated with the coupling of cycles of growth, behaviour and reproduction to the diel light-dark cycle. How this functions in the deep sea remains enigmatic.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2295-2302
Number of pages8
JournalProceedings of the Royal Society of London. B, Biological Sciences
Publication statusPublished - 1999


  • melatonin
  • deep sea
  • eye
  • brain
  • fish
  • gadiform
  • North Pacific-Ocean
  • Atlantic-Ocean
  • Pineal organ
  • secretion
  • invitro
  • camera
  • coryphaenoides-(nematonurus)-Armatus
  • localization
  • consumption
  • morphology

Cite this