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Brain Behav Evol. 2006;67(1):39-52. Epub 2005 Oct 10.

The eye of the laboratory mouse remains anatomically adapted for natural conditions.

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Department of Biological Sciences, University of Idaho, Moscow, ID 83844-3015, USA.


Evolutionary effects of domestication have been demonstrated for several body systems, including the eye, and for several vertebrate species, including the mouse. Given the importance of the laboratory mouse to vision science, we wished to determine whether the anatomical and histological features of the eyes of laboratory mice are distinct from those of their naturally adapted, wild counterparts. We measured dimensions and masses of whole eyes and lenses from a wild population plus three inbred strains (C57BL/6J, NZB/BINJ, and DBA/1J) of the house house, Mus musculus, as well as wild and outbred laboratory-domesticated stock of the deer mouse, Peromyscus maniculatus. Histological preparations from these eyes were used to determine outer nuclear layer thickness, linear density of the ganglion cell layer, and for indirect immunofluorescence evaluation of cone opsin expression. For all of these traits, no statistically significant differences were found between any laboratory strain and its wild counterpart. The evolutionary effects of domestication of mice therefore do not include changes to the eye in any variable measured, supporting the continued use of this animal as a model for a naturally adapted visual system.

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