Though it had been supposed earlier that the bullfrog undergoes a virtually complete metamorphosis of visual systems from vitamin A2 and porphyropsin in the tadpole to vitamin A1 and rhodopsin in the adult, the present observations show that the retina of the adult frog may contain as much as 30–40% porphyropsin, all of it segregated in the dorsal zone. The most dorsal quarter of the adult retina may contain 81–89% porphyropsin mixed with a minor amount of rhodopsin; the ventral half contains only rhodopsin. Further, the dorsal zone contains a two to three times higher concentration of visual pigments than the ventral retina. The pigment epithelium underlying the retina contains a corresponding distribution of vitamins A1 and A2, predominantly vitamin A2 in the dorsal pigment epithelium, exclusively vitamin A1 in the ventral zone. The retina accepts whatever vitamin A the pigment epithelium provides it with, and turns it into the corresponding visual pigment. Thus, a piece of light-adapted dorsal retina laid back on ventral pigment epithelium regenerates rhodopsin, whereas a piece of light-adapted ventral retina laid back on dorsal pigment epithelium regenerates predominantly porphyropsin. Vitamin A2 must be made from vitamin A1, by dehydrogenation at the 3,4-bond in the ring. This conversion must occur in the pigment epithelium, presumably through the action of a vitamin A-3,4-dehydrogenase. The essential change at metamorphosis is to make much less of this dehydrogenase, and to sequester it in the dorsal pigment epithelium. Some adult bullfrogs, perhaps characteristically taken in the summer, contain very little porphyropsin—only perhaps 5%—still sequestered in the dorsal retina. The gradient of light over the retinal surface has little if any effect on this distribution. The greater density of visual pigments in the dorsal retina, and perhaps also—although this is less clear—the presence of porphyropsin in this zone, has some ecological importance in increasing the retinal sensitivity to the dimmer and, on occasion, redder light received from below.

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