University of Cambridge > Talks.cam > Evolution and Development Seminar Series > Seeing with Sunscreens: How mantis shrimp build and utilize nature’s most elaborate ultraviolet receptor array

Seeing with Sunscreens: How mantis shrimp build and utilize nature’s most elaborate ultraviolet receptor array

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Mantis shrimp possess wildly elaborate visual systems with various photoreceptor types sensitive to at least 14 distinct chromatic channels of light. Perhaps least understood amongst these photoreceptors are the ultraviolet (UV) receptors, of which there are up to six spectral types maximally sensitive to wavelengths of light between 310 and 380 nm. We have discovered that these finely-tuned UV receptors are produced with the aid of a unique array of UV-specific filters. These filters are composed of mycosporine-like amino acids, commonly termed “biological sunscreens”, which are usually implicated in photo-protection in marine organisms, but have been diversified and localized to specific regions of the mantis shrimp compound eye. Furthermore, we examine the behavioral implications of polychromatic UV sensitivity in mantis shrimp, and suggest a role for these photoreceptors in communication to mediate aggressive interactions and courtship.

This talk is part of the Evolution and Development Seminar Series series.

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