Light-dependent magnetic compass orientation in amphibians and insects: candidate receptors and candidate molecular mechanisms

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Magnetic compass orientation by amphibians, and some insects, is mediated by a light-dependent magnetoreception mechanism. Cryptochrome photopigments, best known for their role in circadian rhythms, are proposed to mediate such responses. In this paper, we explore light-dependent properties of magnetic sensing at three levels: (i) behavioural (wavelength-dependent effects of light on magnetic compass orientation), (ii) physiological (photoreceptors/photopigment systems with properties suggesting a role in magnetoreception), and (iii) molecular (cryptochrome-based and non-cryptochrome-based signalling pathways that are compatible with behavioural responses). Our goal is to identify photoreceptors and signalling pathways that are likely to play a specialized role in magnetoreception in order to definitively answer the question of whether the effects of light on magnetic compass orientation are mediated by a light-dependent magnetoreception mechanism, or instead are due to input from a non-light-dependent (e. g. magnetite-based) magnetoreception mechanism that secondarily interacts with other light-dependent processes.


Research areas and keywords

Subject classification (UKÄ) – MANDATORY

  • Zoology


  • magnetic compass, compound eye, pineal, cryptochrome, magnetoreception, photoreception
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)S241-S256
JournalJournal of the Royal Society Interface
Publication statusPublished - 2010
Publication categoryResearch