Navigation Links
Deep-sea crabs seek food using ultraviolet vision
Date:9/6/2012

HOLLYWOOD Fla. Some deep-sea crabs have eyes sensitive to ultraviolet light, which they may use to snatch glowing plankton and stuff it in their mouths, a new Nova Southeastern University study suggests.

Tamara Frank, Ph.D., a marine biologist and associate professor at Nova Southeastern University's Oceanographic Center, who is the principal investigator of the study, said that crabs living the deep-sea zone --- a pitch dark area at the ocean bottom ---- may be using bioluminescence to help sort out their food.

Duke University marine biologist Snke Johnsen. Ph.D., one of the study's collaborators, explained that the animals might be using their ultraviolet and blue-light sensitivity to sort out the likely toxic corals they're sitting on ---- which glow, producing blue-green and green bioluminescence --- from the plankton they eat, which glow blue.

The sensitivity to shorter ultraviolet wavelengths may give the crabs a form of color vision to guarantee they grab healthy grub, not poison. Frank and her collaborators reported the findings in the Sept. 6 issue of the Journal of Experimental Biology.

Frank has previously shown that certain deep-sea shrimp living in the water column can see ultraviolet wavelengths, even though they live nearly half a mile below the ocean surface, where there's little to no sunlight. Experiments to test deep-sea creatures' sensitivity to light have rarely been done on animals that live on the bottom of the ocean. The new study is one of the first to test how bottom-dwelling animals respond to light.

The team of scientists studied three ocean-bottom sites near The Bahamas. They took video and images of the regions, recording how crustaceans ate and the wavelengths of light, or color, at which neighboring animals glowed by bioluminescence. The scientists also captured and examined the eyes of eight crustaceans found at the sites and several other sites on earlier research cruises.

To capture the crustaceans, the team used the Johnson-Sea-Link submersible. During the dive, crustaceans were gently suctioned into light-tight, temperature-insulated containers. They were brought to the surface, where Frank placed them in holders in her shipboard lab and attached a microelectrode to each of their eyes.

She then flashed different colors and intensities of light at the crustaceans and recorded their eye response with the electrode. From the tests, she discovered that all of the species were extremely sensitive to blue light and two of them were extremely sensitive to both blue and ultraviolet light. The two species sensitive to blue and UV light also used two separate light-sensing channels to make the distinction between the different colors. It's the separate channels that would allow the animals to have a form of color vision, said Johnsen, who is an expert in optics.

During a sub dive, Johnsen used a small, digital camera to capture one of the first true-color images of the bioluminescence of the coral and plankton at the sites. In this "remarkable" image, the coral glows greenish, and the plankton, which is blurred because it's drifting by as it hits the coral, glows blue, he said.

Video of the crabs placidly sitting on a sea pen, periodically picking something off corals and putting it in their mouths, and the data showing the crabs' sensitivity to blue and UV light, suggests that they have the ability color code their food. The idea is "still very much in the hypothesis stage, but it's a good idea," Johnsen said.

To further test the hypothesis, the scientists need to collect more crabs and test the animals' sensitivity to even shorter wavelengths of light. That might be possible, but the team will have to use a different sub, since the Johnson-Sea-Link is no longer available.

Another challenge is to find out whether the way the crabs are acting in the video is natural.

"Our subs, nets and ROVs greatly disturb the animals," Johnsen said. "So we're stuck with what I call forensic biology. We collect information about the animals and the environment, and then try to piece together the most likely story of what happened."

The story looks like deep-sea crabs are color-coding their food, he said.


'/>"/>
Contact: Ken Ma
ken.ma@nova.edu
954-621-7961
Nova Southeastern University
Source:Eurekalert  

Related biology news :

1. Delving into the molecular mechanism behind deep-sea bacterias pressure tolerance
2. Copper chains: Study reveals Earths deep-seated hold on copper
3. New species of deep-sea catshark described from the Galapagos
4. Hot meets cold at new deep-sea ecosystem: Hydrothermal seep
5. Humidity increases odor perception in terrestrial hermit crabs
6. Preventing home invasions means fighting side-by-side for coral-dwelling crabs and shrimp
7. Crabs, insects and spiders vulnerable to oil spill, but also resilient
8. New study shows promise in using RNA nanotechnology to treat cancers and viral infections
9. NIH-funded researchers restore sense of smell in mice using genetic technique
10. Researchers identify key culprit causing muscle atrophy
11. Using millions of years of cell evolution in the fight against cancer
Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:
Related Image:
Deep-sea crabs seek food using ultraviolet vision
(Date:2/2/2016)... , Feb. 2, 2016 This BCC ... bioinformatic market by reviewing the recent advances in ... that drive the field forward. Includes forecast through ... Identify the challenges and opportunities that exist in ... software solution developers, as well as IT and ...
(Date:2/1/2016)... Canada , February 1, 2016 ... technological advancements to drive global touchfree intuitive gesture control ... --> Rising sales of consumer electronics coupled ... gesture control market size through ... consumer electronics coupled with new technological advancements to drive ...
(Date:1/25/2016)... 25, 2016   Unisys Corporation (NYSE: UIS ) ... Kennedy (JFK) International Airport, New York City , ... imposters attempting to enter the United States ... pilot testing of the system at Dulles last ... at JFK during January 2016. --> pilot testing ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:2/11/2016)... , Feb. 11, 2016   BioInformant ... report, "Stem Cell Research Products, Opportunities, Tools, and Technologies ... ... in the stem cell industry, BioInformant has more than ... the stem cell market, by stem cell type. This ...
(Date:2/10/2016)... - BioAmber Inc. (NYSE: BIOA ), a leader ... & Co. Ltd., its partner in the ... an additional CDN$25 million in the joint venture for ... to 40%.  Mitsui will also play a stronger role ... Sarnia , providing dedicated resources alongside BioAmber,s ...
(Date:2/10/2016)... is introducing a hybrid membership model which will provide ... joining or renewing through an organizational purchasing model. For ... employee in any size association or AMC office can ... benefits.   John H. Graham, IV , ... organizations of any size and their employees to gain ...
(Date:2/10/2016)... Feb. 10, 2016  Matchbook, Inc., a company ... growing biotech companies, announced today the appointment of ... Advisor. Jim brings nearly 25 years of experience ... having spent nearly two decades in executive level ... Procurement at Genzyme and, most recently headed global ...
Breaking Biology Technology: