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Spectral Sensitivity of Vision and Bioluminescence in the Midwater Shrimp Sergestes similis
Biological Bulletin
  • S. M. Lindsay, University of California - San Diego
  • Tamara M. Frank, Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institution
  • J. Kent, University of Bristol - United Kingdom
  • Michael I. Latz, University of California - San Diego
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In the oceanic midwater environment, many fish, squid, and shrimp use luminescent countershading to remain cryptic to silhouette-scanning predators. The mid-water penaeid shrimp, Sergestes similis Hansen, responds to downward-directed light with a dim bioluminescence that dynamically matches the spectral radiance of oceanic down-welling light at depth. Although the sensory basis of luminescent countershading behavior is visual, the relationship between visual and behavioral sensitivity is poorly understood. In this study, visual spectral sensitivity, based on microspectrophotometry and electrophysiological measurements of photoreceptor response, is directly compared to the behavioral spectral efficiency of luminescent countershading. Microspectrophotometric measurements on single photoreceptors revealed only a single visual pigment with peak absorbance at 495 nm in the blue-green region of the spectrum. The peak electrophysiological spectral sensitivity of dark-adapted eyes was centered at about 500 nm. The spectral efficiency of luminescent countershading showed a broad peak from 480 to 520 nm. Both electrophysiological and behavioral data closely matched the normalized spectral absorptance curve of a rhodopsin with λmax = 495 nm, when rhabdom length and photopigment specific absorbance were considered. The close coupling between visual spectral sensitivity and the spectral efficiency of luminescent countershading attests to the importance of bioluminescence as a camouflage strategy in this species.
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NSF grant #s: IBN96-01069, OCE-9313972; NERC grant #: GR3/9329

Citation Information
S. M. Lindsay, Tamara M. Frank, J. Kent and Michael I. Latz. "Spectral Sensitivity of Vision and Bioluminescence in the Midwater Shrimp Sergestes similis" Biological Bulletin Vol. 197 Iss. 3 (1999) p. 348 - 360 ISSN: 0006-3185
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