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J Comp Physiol A Neuroethol Sens Neural Behav Physiol. 2011 Apr;197(4):373-85. doi: 10.1007/s00359-010-0622-5. Epub 2011 Jan 13.

Photoreceptor spectral sensitivities of the Small White butterfly Pieris rapae crucivora interpreted with optical modeling.

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Department of Neurobiophysics, University of Groningen, 9747 AG Groningen, The Netherlands.


The compound eye of the Small White butterfly, Pieris rapae crucivora, has four classes of visual pigments, with peak absorption in the ultraviolet, violet, blue and green, but electrophysiological recordings yielded eight photoreceptors classes: an ultraviolet, violet, blue, double-peaked blue, green, blue-suppressed-green, pale-red and deep-red class. These photoreceptor classes were identified in three types of ommatidia, distinguishable by the different eye shine spectra and fluorescence; the latter only being present in the eyes of males. We present here two slightly different optical models that incorporate the various visual pigments, the light-filtering actions of the fluorescent, pale-red and deep-red screening pigment, located inside or adjacent to the rhabdom, and the reflectance spectrum of the tapetum that abuts the rhabdom proximally. The models serve to explain the photoreceptor spectral sensitivities as well as the eye shine.

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