Visual perception of the world requires energy, which must be sustained by a constant supply of oxygen to the light-absorbing retina of the eye. Yet, the retina of sharp-sighted birds does not possess internal capillary beds to supply oxygen, as most other tissues do, so adequate oxygen delivery by simple diffusion seems fundamentally impossible. This project aims to unravel the physiological mechanisms that support birds' exceptional vision by investigating putative pathways that can distribute oxygen and energy within retinal cells. To do this, I will measure how oxygen distributes within the eye and use spatial transcriptomics to uncover the underlying physiological and biochemical mechanisms. By investigating those pathways in the retina of multiple species of birds and reptiles, I will generate an integrative data set on the physiological mechanisms underlying the evolution of superior vision in birds.
Project title: Sensory evolution from a bird's eye perspective – elucidating the physiological basis for superior eyesight.
Area of research: Comparative Animal Physiology
Fellowship period: 1 Aug 2020 - 30 Sep 2023
Fellowship type: AIAS-COFUND II Marie Skłodowska-Curie fellow
This fellowship has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under the Marie Skłodowska-Curie grant agreement No 754513 and The Aarhus University Research Foundation.