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Curr Opin Insect Sci. 2016 Oct;17:32-39. doi: 10.1016/j.cois.2016.05.014. Epub 2016 May 27.

Color vision and color formation in dragonflies.

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Bioproduction Research Institute, National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology (AIST), Central 6, Tsukuba, Ibaraki 305-8566, Japan. Electronic address:


Dragonflies including damselflies are colorful and large-eyed insects, which show remarkable sexual dimorphism, color transition, and color polymorphism. Recent comprehensive visual transcriptomics has unveiled an extraordinary diversity of opsin genes within the lineage of dragonflies. These opsin genes are differentially expressed between aquatic larvae and terrestrial adults, as well as between dorsal and ventral regions of adult compound eyes. Recent topics of color formation in dragonflies are also outlined. Non-iridescent blue color is caused by coherent light scattering from the quasiordered nanostructures, whereas iridescent color is produced by multilayer structures. Wrinkles or wax crystals sometimes enhances multilayer structural colors. Sex-specific and stage-specific color differences in red dragonflies is attributed to redox states of ommochrome pigments.

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