• teleost;
  • in situ hybridization;
  • proliferative growth zone;
  • retinal development;
  • electroretinogram


In order to facilitate emerging models of retinal development, we developed electroretinogram and in situ hybridization protocols to examine the ontogeny of photoreceptors in the retina of a land-locked salmonid, the rainbow trout (Oncorhynchus mykiss). We cloned cDNA fragments corresponding to the rod opsin and each of the four cone opsin gene families, which we utilized to produce riboprobes. We established the specificity of the in situ hybridization protocol by examining subcellular signal localization and through double-labeling experiments. We confirm the assumption that the accessory corner cones in the square mosaic are the ultraviolet wavelength-sensitive (UVS) cone photoreceptor (i.e., they express an SWS1 opsin) and observed UVS cones throughout the retina of small trout. Larger fish have a decrease in sensitivity to short wavelength light stimuli and the distribution of UVS cones in the mature retina is limited to the dorsal-temporal quadrant. These larger fish also possess differentiated UVS cones in the peripheral germinal zone (PGZ), including within areas peripheral to mature retina lacking UVS cones. These data are consistent with the loss of putative UVS cones from the PGZ of a migratory salmonid of another genus, and thus the disappearance of UVS cones appears to be general to the Family Salmonidae, regardless of life history strategy. The generation, differentiation, and subsequent loss of UVS cones in the smolt PGZ is a dramatic example of the supposition that the mechanisms of PGZ development recapitulate the retinal embryogenesis of that species. J. Comp. Neurol. 461:294–306, 2003. © 2003 Wiley-Liss, Inc.