The Mexican cavefish (Astyanax mexicanus) occurs in two distinct forms. A sighted version lives in open streams, and a blind – indeed, eyeless – version inhabits caves.
Researchers at the US National Institutes of Health (NIH) have now discovered that the blind cave fish embryos start to develop eyes, but the process is shut off by the epigenetic silencing of vision-related genes.
Moe than two dozen of the affected genes are also found in humans, with many of them implicated in eye disorders. Scientists led by William Jeffery from the US University of Maryland are now studying the cave fish for clue that might lead to new treatments.
Their research is published in the journal Nature Ecology & Evolution.
Originally published by Cosmos as Now you see it, now you don’t
Curated content from the editorial staff at Cosmos Magazine.
Read science facts, not fiction...
There’s never been a more important time to explain the facts, cherish evidence-based knowledge and to showcase the latest scientific, technological and engineering breakthroughs. Cosmos is published by The Royal Institution of Australia, a charity dedicated to connecting people with the world of science. Financial contributions, however big or small, help us provide access to trusted science information at a time when the world needs it most. Please support us by making a donation or purchasing a subscription today.