, Volume 12, Issue 3, pp 241-250

All the better to see you with: a review of odonate color vision with transcriptomic insight into the odonate eye


Although dragonflies and damselflies (Insecta: Odonata) represent some of the most advanced visual systems among insects, odonate visual systems are not as well understood as those of model or more economically important insects. Yet, with their large and complex eyes, aquatic and terrestrial life stages, entirely carnivorous lifestyle, exceptional mating behaviors, diversity in coloration, occupancy of diverse light environments, and adult success that is completely dependent on vision, it would seem studying the visual system of Odonata at the molecular level would yield highly rewarding scientific findings related to predator/prey interactions, the physiological and molecular shifts associated with ecological shifts in light environments, and the role of vision on behavioral ecology. Here, we provide a review of odonate color vision. The first odonate opsin sequences are published using a degenerate PCR approach for both dragonfly and damselfly lineages as well as a transcriptome approach for a single species of damselfly. These genetic data are combined with electrophysiology data from odonates to examine genotype/phenotype relationships in this visual system. Using these data, we present the first insights into the evolution and distribution of the visual pigments (opsins) among odonates. The integration of molecular and behavioral studies of odonate vision will help answer long-standing questions about how sensory systems and coloration may coevolve.

Seth M. Bybee and Kelsy K. Johnson contributed equally to this work.
This is a contribution to the Festschrift for Michael L. May