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Vision Res. 2002 Jan;42(1):11-8.

Opsin gene and photopigment polymorphism in a prosimian primate.

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  • 1Neuroscience Research Institute and Department of Psychology, University of California, Santa Barbara, CA 93106, USA.


A recent genetic investigation found some species of prosimian to have an opsin gene polymorphism [Nature 402 (1999) 36]. In the present study the functional implications of this finding were explored in a correlated investigation of opsin genes and spectral sensitivity measurements of a diurnal prosimian, Coquerel's sifaka (Propithecus verreauxi coquereli). Spectra recorded using electroretinogram (ERG) flicker photometry reveal a cone photopigment polymorphism paralleling an opsin gene polymorphism detected by molecular methods. This species has two middle-to-long-wavelength cone pigments with peak sensitivities of about 545 and 558 nm and a short-wavelength-sensitive cone with a peak at about 430 nm. The distribution of these pigments among animals predicts the presence of both dichromatic and trichromatic forms of color vision.

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