Photoreceptor-based magnetoreception: optimal design of receptor molecules, cells, and neuronal processing

J R Soc Interface. 2010 Apr 6;7 Suppl 2(Suppl 2):S135-46. doi: 10.1098/rsif.2009.0456.focus. Epub 2010 Feb 3.


The sensory basis of magnetoreception in animals still remains a mystery. One hypothesis of magnetoreception is that photochemical radical pair reactions can transduce magnetic information in specialized photoreceptor cells, possibly involving the photoreceptor molecule cryptochrome. This hypothesis triggered a considerable amount of research in the past decade. Here, we present an updated picture of the radical-pair photoreceptor hypothesis. In our review, we will focus on insights that can assist biologists in their search for the elusive magnetoreceptors.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Electromagnetic Fields*
  • Humans
  • Magnetics
  • Models, Biological
  • Orientation / physiology*
  • Orientation / radiation effects*
  • Perception / physiology*
  • Perception / radiation effects*
  • Photoreceptor Cells / physiology*
  • Photoreceptor Cells / radiation effects*