Mitochondria Double as Tiny Lenses in the EyeMitochondrial bundles in the retina may improve how efficiently your eye captures light.
A MOSQUITO WATCHES you through a lattice of microscopic lenses. You stare back, fly swatter in hand, closely tracking the bloodsucker with your humble single-lens eyes. But it turns out that the way you see each other—and the world—may have more in common than you might think.
A study published last month in Science Advances found that inside mammalian eyes, mitochondria, the organelles that power cells, may serve a second role as microscopic lenses, helping to focus light on the photoreceptor pigments that convert the light into neural signals for the brain to interpret. The findings, which draw a striking parallel between mammalian eyes and the compound eyes of insects and other arthropods, suggest that our own eyes have hidden levels of optical complexity, and that evolution has found new uses for very old parts of our cellular anatomy.