Removing the glial cells that encase Limulus ventral photoreceptors allows direct observation of the cell surface. Light microscopy of denuded photoreceptors reveals a subdivision of the cell body into lobes. Often one lobe, but sometimes several, is relatively clear and translucent (the R lobes). The lobe adjacent to the axon (the A lobe) has a textured appearance. Scanning electron microscopy shows that microvilli cover the surface of R lobes and are absent from the surface of A lobes. When a dim spot of light is incident on the R lobe, the probability of evoking a single photon response is two to three orders of magnitude higher than when the same spot is incident on the A lobe. We conclude that the sensitivity of the cell to light is principally a function of the R lobe.

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