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The ontogeny of facultative superposition optics in a shrimp eye: hatching through metamorphosis


Footnote 1Compound eyes of larval and first postlarval grass shrimp (Palaemonetes pugio Holthuis) were studied with light and electron microscopy following adaptation to darkness or bright light. Larvae have well-developed apposition eyes, including 3 main types of accessory screening and reflecting pigments and a fourth class of putatively reflective granules recently described in adult shrimps. Rhabdoms contain orthogonally layered microvilli, and by the last larval stage, 8 retinular cells. Ocular accessory pigments in both light- and dark-adapted larvae are distributed much like those of light-adapted adults, but the distal mass of reflecting pigment is concentrated dorsally in larvae and ventrally in adults. Since larvae swim upside-down, reflecting pigment is oriented downward in all developmental stages and may function for countershading. Light and dark adaptational migrations of all 3 major accessory pigments commence abruptly at metamorphosis to the first postlarva. Upon dark adaptation in postlarvae, superposition optics remain impossible because (1) distal screening pigment migrates only slightly, (2) no clear zone has developed, and (3) the crystalline cones remain circular in cross section. Nevertheless, a slight improvement in photon catch is expected due to extensive redistributions of reflecting pigment and retinular cell screening pigment granules.

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    A preliminary report on this research has appeared in the form of an abstract (Douglass 1985)


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Correspondence to Dr. John K. Douglass.

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Douglass, J.K., Forward, R.B. The ontogeny of facultative superposition optics in a shrimp eye: hatching through metamorphosis. Cell Tissue Res. 258, 289–300 (1989). https://doi.org/10.1007/BF00239449

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Key words

  • Adaptation, light/dark
  • Compound eye
  • Development, ontogenetic
  • Pigment migration, visual system
  • Palaemonetes pugio (Crustacea)