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Zh Obshch Biol. 2014 Mar-Apr;75(2):104-23.

[Magnetoreception systems in birds: a review of current research].

[Article in Russian]


Currently at least two independent systems of magnetoreception are believed to exist in birds, based on different biophysical principles, located in different parts of their bodies, and having different innervation. One magnetoreceptory system is located in the retina and may be based on photo-induced biradical chemical reactions on the basis of cryptochrome. Information from these receptors is processed in a specialized part of visual Wulst, the so-called Cluster N. There are good reasons to believe that this visual magnetoreceptor processes compass magnetic information which is necessary for migratory orientation. The second magnetoreceptory system is probably iron-based (biogenic magnetite), is located somewhere in the upper beak (its exact location and ultrastructure of receptors remain unknown), and is innervated by the ophthalmic branch of trigeminal nerve. It cannot be ruled out that this system participates in spatial representation and helps forming either a kind of map or more primitive signposts, based on regular spatial variation of the geomagnetic field. The magnetic map probably governs navigation of migrating birds across hundreds and thousands of kilometers. Apart from these two systems whose existence may be considered to be convincingly shown (even if their details are not yet fully clear), there are data on the existence of magnetoreceptors based on the vestibular system. It cannot be ruled out that iron-based magnetoreception takes place in lagena (a structure homologous to cochlea of marsupials and eutherians), and the information perceived is processes in vestibular nuclei. The very existence of this magnetoreception system needs verification, and its function remains completely open.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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