Electroretinographic study of the magnetic compass in European robins: Study of avian magnetic compass by ERG

Luba A. Astakhova, Alexander Yu Rotov, Roman V. Cherbunin, Arsenii A. Goriachenkov, Kirill V. Kavokin, Michael L. Firsov, Nikita Chernetsov

Research outputpeer-review

Abstract

Migratory birds are known to be sensitive to external magnetic field (MF). Much indirect evidence suggests that the avian magnetic compass is localized in the retina. Previously, we showed that changes in the MF direction could modulate retinal responses in pigeons. In the present study, we performed similar experiments using the traditional model animal to study the magnetic compass, European robins. The photoresponses of isolated retina were recorded using ex vivo electroretinography (ERG). Blue- and red-light stimuli were applied under an MF with the natural intensity and two MF directions, when the angle between the plane of the retina and the field lines was 0° and 90°, respectively. The results were separately analysed for four quadrants of the retina. A comparison of the amplitudes of the a- and b-waves of the ERG responses to blue stimuli under the two MF directions revealed a small but significant difference in a- but not b-waves, and in only one (nasal) quadrant of the retina. The amplitudes of both the a- and b-waves of the ERG responses to red stimuli did not show significant effects of the MF direction. Thus, changes in the external MF modulate the European robin retinal responses to blue flashes, but not to red flashes. This result is in a good agreement with behavioural data showing the successful orientation of birds in an MF under blue, but not under red illumination.

Original languageEnglish
Article number20202507
JournalProceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences
Volume287
Issue number1940
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 9 Dec 2020

Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Immunology and Microbiology(all)
  • Environmental Science(all)
  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)

Fingerprint Dive into the research topics of 'Electroretinographic study of the magnetic compass in European robins: Study of avian magnetic compass by ERG'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this