Comparative view of pineal gland morphology of nocturnal and diurnal birds of tropical origin

C. Haldar, K. S. Bishnupuri

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

16 Scopus citations


Although having a similar developmental pattern, the pineal gland of tropical birds varies in shape, size, and morphology, probably more than any other part of the avian brain. Following the old classification, we noted a solid follicular (transitional) type of the pineal gland in the nocturnal bird Athene brama, and a tubulo-follicular and elongated tubular types of pineal gland in diurnal birds Perdicula asiatica and Euroloncha punchulata, respectively. Detailed light (LM) and electron microscopic (EM) studies of the pineal gland from these tropical birds revealed the presence of a well-developed, functionally active gland in nocturnal birds (contrary to reports available until now). Unlike diurnal birds, the nocturnal bird A. brama has no deep pineal in the posterior region (near the habenular commissure). It could be that the deep encephalic receptors have no/fewer functions in nocturnal birds. At present, we were unable to define the significance of deep pineal in these tropical avian species. A notable difference in the proximodistal orientation of intrapineal follicles and parenchymatous cells was noted among these birds due to different habitats. Ultrastructurally, the pinealocytes exhibited great similarities in terms of secretory organelles, except for the presence of some peculiar membranous structure in E. punchulata. The pinealocytes have rudimentary photoreceptive features (e.g., outer segment) along with cytoplasmic organelles for secretory activity, suggesting both photosensory and photosecretory types of function. The present study also suggests more heterogenicity in pineal gland morphology (cellular architecture) among diurnal birds than the nocturnal one.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)25-32
Number of pages8
JournalMicroscopy Research and Technique
Issue number1
StatePublished - Apr 1 2001


  • Avian pineal
  • Follicle type
  • Jungle bush quail
  • Spotted munia
  • Spotted owlet


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