Colour vision in the glow-worm Lampyris noctiluca (L.) (Coleoptera: Lampyridae): evidence for a green-blue chromatic mechanism

Booth, David, Stewart, Alan J A and Osorio, Daniel (2004) Colour vision in the glow-worm Lampyris noctiluca (L.) (Coleoptera: Lampyridae): evidence for a green-blue chromatic mechanism. Journal of Experimental Biology, 207 (14). pp. 2373-2378. ISSN 0022-0949

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Male glow-worms Lampyris noctiluca find their bioluminescent mates at night by phototaxis. There is good evidence that location of mates by lampyrid beetles is achieved by a single spectral class of photoreceptor, whose spectral sensitivity is tuned to the bioluminescent spectrum emitted by conspecifics, and is achromatic. We ask whether glow-worm phototaxis involves interactions between two spectral classes of photoreceptor. Binary choice experiments were conducted in which males were presented with artificial light stimuli that differ in spectral composition. The normal preference for a green stimulus (lmax=555nm), corresponding to the bioluminescence wavelength produced by signalling females, was significantly reduced by adding a blue (lmax=485nm) component to the signal. This implies an antagonistic interaction between long- and short-wavelength sensitive photoreceptors, suggesting colour vision based on chromatic opponency. Cryosections showed a band of yellow filter pigment in the fronto-dorsal region of the male compound eye, which could severely constrain colour vision in the dim conditions in which the insects signal. This apparent paradox is discussed in the context of the distribution of the pigment within the eye and the photic niche of the species.

Item Type: Article
Additional Information: AJAS designed the experimental apparatus and protocols, carried out a pilot study, wrote approximately 50% of the paper and edited the final draft. Booth (PhD student) performed the experiments under direction from AJAS, with non-supervisory input from Osorio. Rare example of colour vision in an insect. Reviewed in journal's editorial.
Schools and Departments: School of Life Sciences > Evolution, Behaviour and Environment
Depositing User: Alan Stewart
Date Deposited: 06 Feb 2012 20:18
Last Modified: 21 Mar 2012 14:21
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