Seeing the rainbow: Mechanisms underlying spectral sensitivity in teleost fishes

Karen L. Carleton, Daniel Escobar-Camacho, Sara M. Stieb, Fabio Cortesi, N. Justin Marshall

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54 Citas (Scopus)


Among vertebrates, teleost eye diversity exceeds that found in all other groups. Their spectral sensitivities range from ultraviolet to red, and the number of visual pigments varies from 1 to over 40. This variation is correlated with the different ecologies and life histories of fish species, including their variable aquatic habitats: murky lakes, clear oceans, deep seas and turbulent rivers. These ecotopes often change with the season, but fish may also migrate between ecotopes diurnally, seasonally or ontogenetically. To survive in these variable light habitats, fish visual systems have evolved a suite of mechanisms that modulate spectral sensitivities on a range of timescales. These mechanisms include: (1) optical media that filter light, (2) variations in photoreceptor type and size to vary absorbance and sensitivity, and (3) changes in photoreceptor visual pigments to optimize peak sensitivity. The visual pigment changes can result from changes in chromophore or changes to the opsin. Opsin variation results from changes in opsin sequence, opsin expression or co-expression, and opsin gene duplications and losses. Here, we review visual diversity in a number of teleost groups where the structural and molecular mechanisms underlying their spectral sensitivities have been relatively well determined. Although we document considerable variability, this alone does not imply functional difference per se. We therefore highlight the need for more studies that examine species with known sensitivity differences, emphasizing behavioral experiments to test whether such differences actually matter in the execution of visual tasks that are relevant to the fish.

Idioma originalInglés
Número de artículojeb193334
PublicaciónJournal of Experimental Biology
EstadoPublicada - 1 abr. 2020
Publicado de forma externa


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