Skip to main content

Thank you for visiting nature.com. You are using a browser version with limited support for CSS. To obtain the best experience, we recommend you use a more up to date browser (or turn off compatibility mode in Internet Explorer). In the meantime, to ensure continued support, we are displaying the site without styles and JavaScript.

Volume 558 Issue 7708, 7 June 2018

Body electric

Skates and sharks have specialized electrosensory organs that detect weak electric fields and communicate the information to their central nervous systems. In this issue, David Julius and his colleagues analyse sensory cells within these organs and show that although both skates and sharks use similar low-threshold voltage-gated calcium channels to start the cellular process, they each use distinct potassium channels to modulate this activity. The authors found that the potassium channels in the chain catshark (Scyliorhinus retifer) support large, repetitive membrane voltage spiking in response to electrical stimuli, but those in the little skate (Leucoraja erinacea, pictured on the cover) produce smaller, tunable oscillations. The researchers suggest that as a result sharks use their electrosensory capabilities primarily as an aid in predation whereas skates also use them to communicate with one another.

Cover image: Duncan Leitch

This Week

News in Focus

Comment

Technology

Careers

Futures

  • Futures |

    Reflected glory.

    • Taik Hobson

Research

Nature Briefing

Sign up for the Nature Briefing newsletter — what matters in science, free to your inbox daily.

Get the most important science stories of the day, free in your inbox. Sign up for Nature Briefing

Search

Quick links