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Brain Behav Evol. 2004;64(3):141-7.

Eyes: variety, development and evolution.

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Neuroscience Program, Stanford University, Stanford, Calif 94305, USA.


The selective advantages of using light as a source of information are reflected in the diverse types of extant eyes. The physical properties of light restrict how it can be collected and processed, resulting in only eight known optical systems found in animals. Eyes develop through tissue rearrangement and differentiation. Our understanding of the source of genetic information used in developmental programs is growing rapidly and reveals distributions of gene expression with substantial overlap in both time and space. Specific genes and their products are used repeatedly, making causal relationships more difficult to discern. The phenomenon of groups of genes acting together seems to be the rule. Throughout evolution, particular genes have become associated with distinct aspects of eye development, and these suites of genes have been recruited repeatedly as new eyes evolved.

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