Exceptional diversity of opsin expression patterns in Neogonodactylus oerstedii (Stomatopoda) retinas

Megan L. Porter*, Hiroko Atawa, Michael J Bok, Thomas W Cronin

*Corresponding author for this work

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Stomatopod crustaceans possess some of the most complex animal visual systems, including at least 16 spectrally-distinct types of photoreceptive units (e.g. assemblages of photoreceptor cells). Here for the first time we fully characterize the set of opsin genes expressed in retinal tissues and determine expression patterns of each in the stomatopod Neogonodactylus oerstedii. Using a combination of transcriptome and RACE sequencing, we identified 33 opsin transcripts expressed in each N. oerstedii eye, which are predicted to form 20 long wavelength sensitive (LWS), 10 middle wavelength sensitive (MWS), and three ultraviolet sensitive (UVS) visual pigments. Observed expression patterns of these 33 transcripts were highly unusual in five respects: (1) all long-wavelength and short/middle wavelength photoreceptive units expressed multiple opsins while ultraviolet photoreceptor cells expressed single opsins; (2) most of the long-wavelength photoreceptive units expressed at least one MWS opsin transcript; (3) the photoreceptors involved in spatial, motion, and polarization vision expressed more transcripts than those involved in color vision; (4) there is a unique opsin transcript that is expressed in all eight of the photoreceptive units devoted to color vision; and (5) expression patterns in the peripheral hemispheres of the eyes suggest visual specializations not previously recognized in stomatopods. Elucidating the expression patterns of all opsin transcripts expressed in the N. oerstedii retina reveals the potential for previously undocumented functional diversity in the already complex stomatopod eye and is a first step towards understanding the functional significance of the unusual abundance of opsins found in many arthropod species’ visual systems.
Original languageEnglish
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Early online date2 Apr 2020
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 2 Apr 2020


  • Stomatopoda
  • opsin
  • retinal expression
  • in situ hybridization
  • evolution

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