Toward Developing Models to Study the Disease, Ecology, and Evolution of the Eye in Mollusca

Jeanne M. Serb, Iowa State University

This article is from American Malacological Bulletin 26 (2008): 3, doi:10.4003/006.026.0202. Posted with permission.


Several invertebrate systems have been developed to study various aspects of the eye and eye disease including Drosophila, Planaria, Platynereis, and most recently, the cubozoan jellyfish Tripedalia; however, molluscs, the second largest metazoan phylum, so far have been underrepresented in eye research. This is surprising as mollusc systems offer opportunities to study visual processes that may be altered by disease, vision physiology, development of the visual system, behavior, and evolution. Malacologists have labored for over a century as morphologists, systematists, physiologists, and ecologists in order to understand the structural and functional diversity in molluscs at all levels of biological organization. Yet, malacologists have had little opportunity to interact with researchers whose interests are restricted to the biology and development of eyes as model systems as they tend not to publish in the same journals or attend the same meetings. In an effort to highlight the advantages of molluscan eyes as a model system and encourage greater collaboration among researchers, I provide an overview of molluscan eye research from these two perspectives: eye researchers whose interests involve the development, physiology, and disease of the eye and malacologists who study the complete organism in its natural environment. I discuss the developmental and genetic information available for molluscan eyes and the need to place this work in an evolutionary perspective. Finally, I discuss how synergy between these two groups will advance eye research, broaden research in both fields, and aid in developing new molluscan models for eye research.