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J Comp Physiol A Neuroethol Sens Neural Behav Physiol. 2004 Feb;190(2):147-54. Epub 2003 Dec 17.

Population variation in opsin expression in the bluefin killifish, Lucania goodei: a real-time PCR study.

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  • 1Department of Biological Science, Florida State University, Tallahassee, FL 32306-4340, USA.


Quantitative genetics have not been used in vision studies because of the difficulty of objectively measuring large numbers of individuals. Here, we examine the effectiveness of a molecular technique, real-time PCR, as an inference of visual components in the bluefin killifish, Lucania goodei, to determine whether there is population variation in opsin expression. Previous work has shown that spring animals possess a higher frequency of UV and violet cones and a lower frequency of yellow and red cones than swamp animals. Here, we found a good qualitative match between the population differences in opsin expression and those found previously in cone frequency. Spring animals expressed higher amounts of SWS1 and SWS2B opsins (which correspond to UV and violet photopigments) and lower amounts of RH2 and LWS opsins (which correspond to yellow and red photopigments) than swamp animals. The counterintuitive pattern between color pattern, lighting environment, and vision remains. Males with blue anal fins are more abundant in swamps where animals express fewer SWS1 and SWS2B opsins and where transmission of UV/blue wavelengths is low. Understanding this system requires quantitative genetic studies. Real-time PCR is an effective tool for studies requiring inferences of visual physiology in large numbers of individuals.

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