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Visual pigments of African cichlid fishes



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Vision Research 40 2000 879 890 www elsevier com locate visres Visual pigments of African cichlid fishes evidence for ultraviolet vision from microspectrophotometry and DNA sequences Karen L Carleton a Ferenc I Ha rosi b 1 Thomas D Kocher a c a Department of Zoology Uni6ersity of New Hampshire Rudman Hall 46 College Road Durham NH 03824 2617 USA b Laboratory of Sensory Physiology Marine Biological Laboratory Woods Hole MA 02543 USA c Program in Genetics Uni6ersity of New Hampshire Durham NH 03824 USA Received 4 June 1999 received in revised form 12 October 1999 Abstract We have found evidence for ultraviolet visual capabilities in a Lake Malawi cichlid fish Metriaclima zebra Microspectrophotometry of single cones revealed a visual pigment with peak sensitivity at 368 9 4 nm M zebra also expresses a putative ultraviolet opsin gene whose sequence is closely related to the SWS 1 opsin for other fishes Several other African cichlids have a functional copy of this UV gene in their genomic DNA but do not appear to express this gene as adults These results suggest that ultraviolet vision is important for some cichlid fishes UV wavelengths should therefore be included in future studies of cichlid vision behavior and color patterns 2000 Elsevier Science Ltd All rights reserved Keywords Opsin Visual pigment Ultraviolet vision Cichlidae Microspectrophotometry 1 Introduction The cichlid fishes of the East African Rift lakes are one of the best known examples of rapid vertebrate radiations In Lake Malawi an estimated 500 1000 species have arisen in the last 1 5 million years Fryer Iles 1972 Lewis Reinthal Trendall 1986 Males display bright breeding coloration and this color pattern is a key distinction between closely related species as has been demonstrated from taxonomic Ribbink Marsh Marsh Ribbink Sharp 1983 behavioral McElroy Kornfield 1990 and genetic work Albertson Markert Danley Kocher 1999 Speciation of these fishes may be driven by sexual selection for these male traits



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