Journal of Comparative Physiology A

, Volume 163, Issue 5, pp 685–698 | Cite as

Longwave-sensitive visual pigments in some deep-sea fishes: segregation of ‘paired’ rhodopsins and porphyropsins

  • J. K. Bowmaker
  • H. J. A. Dartnall
  • P. J. Herring


Microspectrophotometric examination of individual rods, and partial bleaching of visual pigment extracts from three species of deep-sea fish,Aristostomias grimaldii, Malacosteus niger andPachystomias microdon, suggest the presence of a rhodopsin-porphyropsin system of paired pigments.Aristostomias andMalacosteus have a P5522-P5171 pair, whilePachystomias has a P5442-P5131 pair. In contrast to most pigmentpair systems, each pigment is restricted to a single class of rod, thus giving the fish two spectrally distinct classes of photoreceptor. It is suggested that the longwave sensitive rods are an adaptation enabling these species to perceive their own deep-red bioluminescence. The astaxanthin-based red tapetum inMalacosteus, and a chlorin-like pigment, possibly acting as a photosensitizer and found in the rod outer segments ofMalacosteus, may also act to increase longwave sensitivity.


Outer Segment Distinct Classis Single Class Visual Pigment Pigment Extract 
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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 1988

Authors and Affiliations

  • J. K. Bowmaker
    • 1
  • H. J. A. Dartnall
    • 2
  • P. J. Herring
    • 3
  1. 1.School of Biological Sciences, Queen Mary CollegeUniversity of LondonLondon
  2. 2.Department of Experimental PsychologyUniversity of SussexFalmer, Brighton
  3. 3.Institute of Oceanographic SciencesWormley, GodalmingUK

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