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J Comp Neurol. 1978 Feb 15;177(4):557-67.

The number and distribution of ganglion cells in the retina of the brush-tailed possum, Trichosurus vulpecula.


The distribution of ganglion cells in the retina of the adult brush-tailed possum was determined by light microscopy of Nissl stained retinal whole mounts. Qualitatively, the distribution in this marsupial retina shows features, such as an area centralis and a visual streak, which are found separately or together in eutherian mammals. The possum retina is avascular and the eye has a weak tapetum in the superior fundus.The retinal area is 260 mm2 and there are about 280,000 ganglion cells. The diameters of the ganglion cell somas range from 5 micrometer to 26 micrometer and the frequency distribution of soma size classes is skewed and unimodal (mean" 12.8 micrometer) with 62% of the cells falling in the class of diameters 7-13 micrometer. Maps of ganglion cell density were made for five retinae. These maps show that there is a band of high ganglion cell density (greater 2,000 cells mm-2) which extends across the retina about 0.6 mm above the optic disc in the tapetal region of the fundus and which lies in the plane of the animal's horizon when the eyes are in their primary position. By analogy with other species, this band is termed the visual streak. Near the temporal end of the visual streak, 2.9 mm from the optic disc, the ganglion cell density reaches a localized maximum of approximately 5,000 cells mm-2 thereby defining the centre of an area centralis (greater than 3,000 cells mm-2). The posterior nodal distance of the possum eye was estimated at 7.8 mm, which corresponds to a retinal magnification of 136 micrometer per degree of visual field. There are up to 30,000 glial cells which lie in, or slightly vitread to, the layer of the retinal ganglion cells.

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