, Volume 195, Issue 4, pp 401-408
Date: 18 Feb 2009

Evolution of color vision in pierid butterflies: blue opsin duplication, ommatidial heterogeneity and eye regionalization in Colias erate

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This paper documents the molecular organization of the eye of the Eastern Pale Clouded Yellow butterfly, Colias erate (Pieridae). We cloned four cDNAs encoding visual pigment opsins, corresponding to one ultraviolet, two blue and one long wavelength-absorbing visual pigments. Duplication of the blue visual pigment class occurs also in another pierid species, Pieris rapae, suggesting that blue duplication is a general feature in the family Pieridae. We localized the opsin mRNAs in the Colias retina by in situ hybridization. Among the nine photoreceptor cells in an ommatidium, R1-9, we found that R3-8 expressed the long wavelength class mRNA in all ommatidia. R1 and R2 expressed mRNAs of the short wavelength opsins in three fixed combinations, corresponding to three types of ommatidia. While the duplicated blue opsins in Pieris are separately expressed in two subsets of R1-2 photoreceptors, one blue sensitive and another violet sensitive, those of Colias appear to be always coexpressed.