Telegraph e-paper

Nature’s oldest eye discovered

By Camilla Turner Cyanobacteria eLife.

SCIENTISTS have “accidentally” found what they believe to be nature’s smallest and oldest eyeball.

They discovered that in a form of bacteria, the entire organism acts like a tiny eye.

can sense light and move towards it, but scientists have never known how they do it.

Biologists from Queen Mary University of London have now observed that incoming rays are bent by the organism’s spherical surface and focused in a spot on the far side of the cell. The microbes then shuffle along in the opposite direction to that bright spot. “We noticed it accidentally, because we had cells on a surface and we were shining light from one side, in order to watch the movement towards the light,” Prof Conrad Mullineaux told the BBC.

The bacteria use the same physical principles as the human eye. This makes them “probably the world’s smallest and oldest example” of such a lens, the researchers write in the journal





Daily Telegraph