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Multiple genes permit closely related fish species to mix and match their color vision

nd in an individual way, resulting in differences in how the visual world is sensed.

The researchers identified a total of seven "cone" (color-sensing) visual pigments underlying color vision in these cichlids. They have measured the sensitivities of the cones to different wavelengths of light and isolated the seven genes that give rise to the pigment proteins. The seven cone types have maximum sensitivities ranging from the red end of the spectrum right through to the ultraviolet--light outside the range of human sensitivity. The researchers showed that in order to tune its color vision, each cichlid species primarily expresses three of the seven cone pigment genes encoded by their genomes.

It is not clear why such closely related cichlid species have evolved such different visual sensitivities, but the sensitivities most likely relate to such selective forces as foraging specializations and subtle differences in the underwater light environment. Evolutionary comparison of pigment genes suggests that other groups of fish may use a similar strategy for shaping their color vision.


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Source:Cell Press


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