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Physiol Behav. 1997 Feb;61(2):159-63.

Absolute and spectral sensitivities in dark- and light-adapted Pagothenia borchgrevinki, an Antarctic nototheniid fish.

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First Department of Physiology, Hamamatsu University School of Medicine, Japan.


Functional properties of the retina of Pagothenia borchgrevinki, an Antarctic nototheniid fish that lives beneath the 2.5-3 m thick sea-ice in water of -1.8 degrees C temperature, were analyzed electrophysiologically at Scott Base (77 degrees 50'S; 166 degrees 45'E). The waveform of the ERG was monophasic in the dark-adapted state and showed an off-response of opposite polarity in the light-adapted condition. Responses of the light-adapted retina were smaller than those of the dark-adapted eye, although both photopic and scotopic components were observed. Spectral sensitivity measured by monochromatic photostimulation at 14 different wavelengths across the 400-700-nm range showed a single maximum at 490 nm. The spectral sensitivity curve is consistent with a rhodopsin photopigment. The dark-adapted retina exhibited a photon flux density threshold of approximately 2 x 10(9) photons cm-2 s-1) when monochromatic flashes of 500 nm wavelength and 250 ms duration were used. When the stimulus consisted of 1 s white light, a minimum energy flux density of approx. 2 x 10(-4) microW/cm2 was necessary to elicit a detectable response. It was concluded that the visual system of P. borchgrevinki was in tune with the dominant downwelling spectral irradiance and that, due to retinal thermal noise reduction in the cold environment, no great need for particular anatomical adaptations to further enhance sensitivity existed.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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