It was a puzzle about birds.
Migratory birds are known to rely on Earth’s magnetic field to help them navigate the globe. And it was suspected that a protein called cryptochrome, which is sensitive to blue light, was making it possible for birds to do this.
Yet many of these animals are also known to migrate at night when there isn’t much light available. So it wasn’t clear how cryptochrome would function under these conditions in birds.
A new study led by UT Southwestern Medical Center in collaboration with SMU (Southern Methodist University), though, may have figured out the answer to that puzzle.
Researchers found that cryptochromes from migratory birds have evolved a mechanism that enhances their ability to respond to light, which can enable them to sense and respond to magnetic fields. MORE