Sensory - Magnetoreception Development

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Magnetoreception is a sensory system that allows some species, not humans, to sense the earth's geomagnetic field.


  • Zebrafish and medaka[1]

Some Recent Findings

  • Zebrafish and medaka offer insights into the neurobehavioral correlates of vertebrate magnetoreception[1] "An impediment to a mechanistic understanding of how some species sense the geomagnetic field ("magnetoreception") is the lack of vertebrate genetic models that exhibit well-characterized magnetoreceptive behavior and are amenable to whole-brain analysis. We investigated the genetic model organisms zebrafish and medaka, whose young stages are transparent and optically accessible. In an unfamiliar environment, adult fish orient according to the directional change of a magnetic field even in darkness. To enable experiments also in juveniles, we applied slowly oscillating magnetic fields, aimed at generating conflicting sensory inputs during exploratory behavior. Medaka (but not zebrafish) increase their locomotor activity in this assay. Complementary brain activity mapping reveals neuronal activation in the lateral hindbrain during magnetic stimulation. These comparative data support magnetoreception in teleosts, provide evidence for a light-independent mechanism, and demonstrate the usefulness of zebrafish and medaka as genetic vertebrate models for studying the biophysical and neuronal mechanisms underlying magnetoreception."
More recent papers  
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Search term: Magnetoreception

Claus Nielsen, Morten Steen Nørby, Jacob Kongsted, Ilia A Solov'yov Absorption Spectra of FAD Embedded in Cryptochromes. J Phys Chem Lett: 2018; PubMed 29905481

Pavel Slaby, Premysl Bartos, Jakub Karas, Radek Netusil, Kateřina Tomanova, Martin Vacha How Swift Is Cry-Mediated Magnetoreception? Conditioning in an American Cockroach Shows Sub-second Response. Front Behav Neurosci: 2018, 12;107 PubMed 29892217

Henrik Mouritsen Long-distance navigation and magnetoreception in migratory animals. Nature: 2018, 558(7708);50-59 PubMed 29875486

Robert R Fitak, Lorian E Schweikert, Benjamin R Wheeler, David A Ernst, Kenneth J Lohmann, Sönke Johnsen Near absence of differential gene expression in the retina of rainbow trout after exposure to a magnetic pulse: implications for magnetoreception. Biol. Lett.: 2018, 14(6); PubMed 29875210

Chiara Agliassa, Ravishankar Narayana, John M Christie, Massimo E Maffei Geomagnetic field impacts on cryptochrome and phytochrome signaling. J. Photochem. Photobiol. B, Biol.: 2018, 185;32-40 PubMed 29864723


  1. 1.0 1.1 Myklatun A, Lauri A, Eder SHK, Cappetta M, Shcherbakov D, Wurst W, Winklhofer M & Westmeyer GG. (2018). Zebrafish and medaka offer insights into the neurobehavioral correlates of vertebrate magnetoreception. Nat Commun , 9, 802. PMID: 29476093 DOI.

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Cite this page: Hill, M.A. (2018, June 22) Embryology Sensory - Magnetoreception Development. Retrieved from

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© Dr Mark Hill 2018, UNSW Embryology ISBN: 978 0 7334 2609 4 - UNSW CRICOS Provider Code No. 00098G