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J Comp Physiol A Neuroethol Sens Neural Behav Physiol. 2009 Dec;195(12):1153-62. doi: 10.1007/s00359-009-0491-y. Epub 2009 Nov 19.

Ultraviolet polarisation sensitivity in the stomatopod crustacean Odontodactylus scyllarus.

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Sensory Neurobiology Group, School of Biomedical Sciences, University of Queensland, Brisbane, QLD 4072, Australia.


The ommatidia of crustacean eyes typically contain two classes of photoreceptors with orthogonally oriented microvilli. These receptors provide the basis for two-channel polarisation vision in the blue-green spectrum. The retinae of gonodactyloid stomatopod crustaceans possess a great variety of structural specialisations for elaborate polarisation vision. One type of specialisation is found in the small, distally placed R8 cells within the two most ventral rows of the mid-band. These ultraviolet-sensitive photoreceptors produce parallel microvilli, a feature suggestive for polarisation-sensitive photoreceptors. Here, we show by means of intracellular recordings combined with dye-injections that in the gonodactyloid species Odontodactylus scyllarus, the R8 cells of mid-band rows 5 and 6 are sensitive to linear polarised ultraviolet light. We show that mid-band row 5 R8 cells respond maximally to light with an e-vector oriented parallel to the mid-band, whereas mid-band row 6 R8 cells respond maximally to light with an e-vector oriented perpendicular to the mid-band. This orthogonal arrangement of ultraviolet-sensitive receptor cells could support ultraviolet polarisation vision. R8 cells of rows 5 and 6 are known to act as quarter-wave retarders around 500 nm and thus are the first photoreceptor type described with a potential dual role in polarisation vision.

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