The involvement of the Harderian gland, atrophied eyes, and melatonin in the perception of photoperiodic changes has been studied in the mole rat, a fossorial blind mammal the thermoregulatory capacity of which is photoperiod‐dependent. When transferred from a long photoperiod to a short one, mole rats increase their resistance to cold, a perfectly reversible phenomenon. After 2 weeks under short photoperiod the thermoregulatory capacities of animals without Harderian glands are less than those of the controls. The Harderian gland appears thus to be implicated in the detection of photoperiodic changes. After 5 weeks, however, the Harderianectomized animals had perfectly integrated the photoperiodic change, so demonstrating that other photoreceptor organs exist. The atrophied eyes, which, under these conditions, do not seem to play an important role, are involved when the animals are transferred from short photoperiod to long photoperiod. Melatonin, but not 5‐methoxytryptamine, appears to be a crucial compound in such a phenomenon. These results, which demonstrate that in mammals (at least in the mole rat, as in nonmammalian vertebrates), nonocular photoreceptors exist, suggest that the mechanism by which mammals integrate photoperiodic changes is not the same when the animals are transferred from long to short photoperiod as when transferred from short photoperiod to long photoperiod.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Animal Science and Zoology