Goldfish were placed on a daily light cycle of 12 h light and 12 h darkness for 18 days or longer. The visual cells and pigment epithelium of the retina were then examined by microscopy at many intervals throughout the cycle. Goldfish rods and cones follow a rhythmic pattern in eliminating packets of photosensitive membranes from their outer segments. Rods shed membranes early in the light period. The detached membranes are ingested by pigment epithelial cells or by ameboid phagocytes, which degrade them during the remainder of the light period. Cones discard membranes from the ends of their outer segments early in the dark period. During the next several hours, this debris is digested by the pigment epithelium or by ameboid phagocytes. Thus, the disposal phase of the outer-segment renewal process is similar in rods and cones, but is displaced in time by about 12 h. There is evidence that this daily rhythm of membrane disposal in rods and cones is a general property of vertebrate visual cells.

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