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Prof. Dr. Leo Peichl

Dr. Senckenbergische Anatomie
Institute for Clinical Neuroanatomy
Theodor-Stern-Kai 7
D-60590 Frankfurt/Main

Tel +49 (0) 6301 – 83088



Scientific Focus

The basic blueprint of the retina is similar in all mammals (as in all vertebrates). However, in the course of evolution detailed but significant species-specific adaptations have occured in response to specific lifestyles and visual environments. Our comparative studies on mammals belonging to different orders are aimed at showing how flexible the retinal ‘bauplan’ is. The current focus is on the photoreceptor arrangements across mammals. We study the retinal distributions and proportions of cone and rod photoreceptors, e. g., in diurnal, nocturnal, subterranean and marine species. The assessment of spectral cone types allows predictions about colour vision.


  • Classical staining methods on retinal sections and whole retinae
  • Immunocytochemistry (antibody labeling) on retinal sections and whole retinae to reveal functionally characterized types and populations of neurons
  • Cone opsin gene analysis to estimate spectral tuning
  • Intracellular dye injections by micropipettes to visualize the detailed morphology of individual neurons
  • The combination of these methods also provides information about the functional contacts between defined cell types

Selected Publications

Mowat FM, Peichl L (2022) Ophthalmology of Canidae: Foxes, Wolves, and Relatives. In: Wild and Exotic Animal Ophthalmology, Vol. 2 Mammals (Eds. F. Montiani-Ferreira, B.A. Moore, G. Ben-Shlomo). Springer, Cham. pp. 181–214.

Gower DJ, Sampaio FL, Peichl L, Wagner H-J, Loew ER, McLamb W, Douglas RH, Orlow N, Grace MS, Hart NS, Hunt DM, Partridge JC, Simoes BF (2019) Evolution of the eyes of vipers with and without infrared-sensing pit organs. Biological Journal of the Linnean Society 126: 796-823.

Malkemper EP, Peichl L (2018) Retinal photoreceptor and ganglion cell types and topographies in the red fox (Vulpes vulpes) and the Arctic fox (Vulpes lagopus). J Comp Neurol 526: 2078-2098.

Peichl L, Kaiser A, Rakotondraparany F, Dubielzig RR, Goodman SM, Kappeler PM (2017) Diversity of photoreceptor arrangements in nocturnal, cathemeral and diurnal Malagasy lemurs. J Comp Neurol: early view (DOI 10.1002/cne.24167); print version JCN 527: 13-37 (2019).

Solovei I, Kreysing M, Lanctot C, Kösem S, Peichl L, Cremer T, Guck J, Joffe B (2009) Nuclear architecture of rod photoreceptor cells adapts to vision in mammalian evolution. Cell 137: 356-368.

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