The initial stages of development of the retinocollicular projection in the wallaby (Macropus eugenii): distribution of ganglion cells in the retina and their axons in the superior colliculus

Anat Embryol (Berl). 1996 Sep;194(3):301-17. doi: 10.1007/BF00187141.


The time course of ingrowth of retinal projections to the superior colliculus in the marsupial mammal, the wallaby (Macropus eugenii), was determined by anterograde labelling of axons from the eye with horseradish peroxidase, from birth to 46 days, when axons cover the colliculus contralaterally and ipsilaterally. The position of retinal ganglion cells giving rise to these projections over this period was determined in fixed tissue by retrograde labelling from the colliculus with a carbocyanine dye. Axons first reach the rostrolateral contralateral colliculus 4 days after birth and extend caudally and medially, reaching the caudal pole at 18 days and the far caudomedial pole at 46 days. The first contralaterally projecting cells are in the central dorsal and temporal retina, followed by cells in the nasal and finally the ventral retina. They are distributed closer to the periphery with increasing age. The first sign of a visual streak appears by 18 days. Axons reach the ipsilateral colliculus a day later than contralateral axons and come from a similar region of the retina. The sparser ipsilateral projection reaches the caudal and medial collicular margins by 46 days but by 16-18 days, ganglion cells giving rise to this transient projection are already concentrated in the temporoventral retina. The orderly recruitment of ganglion cells from retinotopically appropriate regions of the retina as axons advance across the contralateral colliculus suggests that the projection is topographically ordered from the beginning. The ipsilateral projection is less ordered as cells are located in the temporoventral crescent at a time when their axons are still transiently covering the colliculus prior to becoming restricted to the rostral colliculus. Features of mature retinal topography such as the visual streak and the location of ipsilaterally projecting cells begin to be established very early in development, before the period of ganglion cell loss and long before eye opening at 140 days.

MeSH terms

  • Age Factors
  • Animals
  • Axons / physiology*
  • Fetus
  • Fluorescent Dyes
  • Histocytochemistry
  • Horseradish Peroxidase
  • Macropodidae / embryology*
  • Retina / embryology*
  • Superior Colliculi / embryology*


  • Fluorescent Dyes
  • Horseradish Peroxidase