Springer Nature is making SARS-CoV-2 and COVID-19 research free. View research | View latest news | Sign up for updates

Developmental dynamic in synaptic ribbons of retinal receptor cells (Tilapia, Xenopus)

  • 17 Accesses

  • 11 Citations


In the cichlid teleost Tilapia leucosticta, the origin and linear development of synaptic ribbons in retinal receptor cells have been studied. First ribbons are invariably found close to their future synaptic sites between two dendritic invaginations. They are then clearly shorter than at later stages and appear bifurcate, or of bulb or drop shape. From these precursors typical ribbons rapidly develop, and these vary considerably in length. From a shift in length distribution, a main growth phase can be detected which takes place at the time when the retina first becomes functional. Similar observations were made in Xenopus. Placing Tilapia larvae in conditions of 24 h continuous light had no effect on ribbon growth, while 24 h of continuous darkness resulted in a prevalence of shorter ribbons. Thus the growth of synaptic ribbons in the course of retinal development appears to be subject to modification by environmental light conditions.

This is a preview of subscription content, log in to check access.


  1. Chen F, Witkovsky P (1978) Formation of photoreceptor synapses in the retina of larval Xenopus. J Neurocytol 7:721–740

  2. Gray EG, Pease HL (1971) On understanding the organization of the retinal receptor synapses. Brain Res 35:1–15

  3. Grün G (1975) Structural basis of the functional development of the retina in the cichlid Tilapia leucosticta (teleostei). J Embryol Exp Morphol 33:243–257

  4. Grün G (1977) The ultrastructural differentiation of synaptic sites in the inner plexiform layer of a teleostean retina. Z Mikr Anat Forsch 91:687–703

  5. McArdle CB, Dowling JE, Masland RH (1977) Development of outer segments and synapses in the rabbit retina. J Comp Neurol 175:253–273

  6. McLaughlin BJ (1976) A fine structural and E-PTA study of photoreceptor synaptogenesis in the chick retina. J Comp Neurol 170:347–364

  7. McLaughlin BJ, Boykins L (1977) Ultrastructure of E-PTA stained synaptic ribbons in the chick retina. J Neurobiol 8:91–96

  8. Nieuwkoop PD, Faber J (1956) Normal table of Xenopus laevis (Daudin). North Holland Publ Comp

  9. Nilsson SEG, Crescitelli F (1970) A correlation of ultrastructure and function in the developing retina of the frog tadpole. J Ultrastruct Res 30:87–102

  10. Olney JW (1968) An electron microscopic study of synapse formation, receptor outer segment development, and other aspects of developing mouse retina. Invest Ophthalmol 7:250–268

  11. Pierantoni R, Citron M, McCann GD (1978) Spatial relationships between synaptic vesicles and synaptic ribbons in the rods of the frog retina. ARVO meeting 1978, Abstract 5, p 116, Suppl to Invest Ophthalmol Vis Sci

  12. Shiragami M (1968) Electron microscopic study on synapses of visual cells. II. The morphogenesis of synapses of visual cells in chick embryos. Jpn J Ophthalmol 72:232–245

  13. Smelser GK, Ozanics V, Rayborn M, Sagun D (1974) Retinal synaptogenesis in the primate. Invest Ophthalmol 13:340–362

  14. Spadaro A, de Simone I, Puzzolo D (1978) Ultrastructural data and chronobiological patterns of the synaptic ribbons in the outer plexiform layer in the retina of albino rats. Acta Anat 102:365–373

  15. Wagner HJ (1973) Darkness-induced reduction of the number of synaptic ribbons in fish retina. Nature New Biology 246:53–55

  16. Wagner HJ (1975) Der Einfluß von Licht und Tagesrhythmus auf die “ribbon synapses” in der Retina. Verh Anat Ges Anat Anz 69:651–658

  17. Weidman TA, Kuwabara T (1968) Postnatal development of the rat retina. An electron microscopic study. Arch Ophthalmol 79:470–484

Download references

Author information

Correspondence to Dr. Gerd Grün.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Cite this article

Grün, G. Developmental dynamic in synaptic ribbons of retinal receptor cells (Tilapia, Xenopus). Cell Tissue Res. 207, 331–339 (1980).

Download citation

Key words

  • Synaptic ribbon
  • Retinal development
  • Light influences