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PLoS One. 2014 Jan 8;9(1):e83259. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0083259. eCollection 2014.

The covert world of fish biofluorescence: a phylogenetically widespread and phenotypically variable phenomenon.

Author information

1
Department of Ichthyology, American Museum of Natural History, Division of Vertebrate Zoology, New York, New York United States of America ; Sackler Institute for Comparative Genomics, American Museum of Natural History, New York, New York, United States of America.
2
Biodiversity Institute, University of Kansas, Lawrence, Kansas, United States of America.
3
Marine Biology Department, The Leon H. Charney School of Marine Sciences, University of Haifa, Mount Carmel, Haifa, Israel.
4
Department of Ichthyology, American Museum of Natural History, Division of Vertebrate Zoology, New York, New York United States of America ; Department of Cellular and Molecular Physiology, The John B. Pierce Laboratory, Inc., Yale University, New Haven, Connecticut, United States of America.
5
Sackler Institute for Comparative Genomics, American Museum of Natural History, New York, New York, United States of America ; Department of Natural Sciences, Baruch College, City University of New York, New York, New York, United States of America.

Abstract

The discovery of fluorescent proteins has revolutionized experimental biology. Whereas the majority of fluorescent proteins have been identified from cnidarians, recently several fluorescent proteins have been isolated across the animal tree of life. Here we show that biofluorescence is not only phylogenetically widespread, but is also phenotypically variable across both cartilaginous and bony fishes, highlighting its evolutionary history and the possibility for discovery of numerous novel fluorescent proteins. Fish biofluorescence is especially common and morphologically variable in cryptically patterned coral-reef lineages. We identified 16 orders, 50 families, 105 genera, and more than 180 species of biofluorescent fishes. We have also reconstructed our current understanding of the phylogenetic distribution of biofluorescence for ray-finned fishes. The presence of yellow long-pass intraocular filters in many biofluorescent fish lineages and the substantive color vision capabilities of coral-reef fishes suggest that they are capable of detecting fluoresced light. We present species-specific emission patterns among closely related species, indicating that biofluorescence potentially functions in intraspecific communication and evidence that fluorescence can be used for camouflage. This research provides insight into the distribution, evolution, and phenotypic variability of biofluorescence in marine lineages and examines the role this variation may play.

PMID:
24421880
PMCID:
PMC3885428
DOI:
10.1371/journal.pone.0083259
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article
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