Send to

Choose Destination
J Comp Physiol A. 1989 Jan;164(4):513-29.

Interspecific variation in the visual pigments of deep-sea fishes.

Author information

Department of Zoology, University of Bristol, United Kingdom.


Visual pigments in the rods of 38 species of deep-sea fish were examined by microspectrophotometry. 33 species were found to have a single rhodopsin with a wavelength of maximum absorbance (lambda max) in the range 470-495 nm. Such visual pigments have absorbance maxima close to the wavelengths of maximum spectral transmission of oceanic water. 5 species, however, did not conform to this pattern and visual pigments were found with lambda max values ranging from 451 nm to 539 nm. In 4 of these species two visual pigments were found located in two types of rod. Some 2-pigment species which have unusual red sensitivity, also have red-emitting photophores. These species have both rhodopsin and porphyropsin pigments in their retinae, which was confirmed by HPLC, and the two pigments are apparently located in separate rods in the same retinal area. In deep-sea fishes the occurrence of 'unusual' visual pigments seems to be correlated with aspects of the species' depth ranges. In addition to ecological influences we present evidence, in the form of lambda max spectral clustering, that indicates the degree of molecular constraint imposed on the evolution of visual pigments in the deep-sea.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

Supplemental Content

Loading ...
Support Center