Journal of Comparative Physiology A

, Volume 154, Issue 4, pp 597–605 | Cite as

Electrophysiological measurement of photoreceptor membrane dichroism and polarization sensitivity in a Grapsid crab

  • F. E. Doujak


  1. 1.

    Discrete depolarizations (bumps) have been recorded from retinula cells of the shore crabLeptograpsus in response to appropriate low light intensities (Fig. 1). The statistical analysis of bumps is consistent with the hypothesis that each bump represents the photoreceptor's response to an absorbed photon. The photoreceptive membrane was estimated to have a quantum capture efficiency of 0.46 (±0.12 SD;n = 6).

  2. 2.

    The modal polarization sensitivity value measured by bump frequency (BPS) in eleven cells was 5.0 with a range from 1.9 to 5.63 (Table 1). There is no statistically significant difference between BPS at wavelengths 621 nm and 499 nm.

  3. 3.

    Polarization sensitivity (PS) measured by graded potentials is equal to the polarization sensitivity measured in the same cells by bumps (Fig. 6). PS values ranged from 1.8 to 7.5 (n=28) with a modal value of 5.0 (Fig. 5).

  4. 4.

    Bump rates represent the direct electrophysiological measurement of the visual pigment's selective absorption to single photons having different E-vector orientations (Fig. 4), and therefore PS measured from bumps provides an accurate estimate of the physiological dichroic properties of the rhabdomere in vivo. The measurements of BPS show that the rhabdomere's dichroism accounts for the observed PS values recorded inLeptograpsus.



Light Intensity Accurate Estimate Single Photon Modal Polarization Visual Pigment 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



bump frequency


dichroic ratio


microspectrophotometric (measurements)


polarization sensitivity


quantum capture efficiency


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Blest AD, Eddey W (1984) The extrarhabdomeral cytoskeleton in photoreceptors of Diptera: II. Plasmalemmal undercoats. Proc R Soc London Ser B 220:353–359Google Scholar
  2. Blest AD, Stowe S, Eddey W (1982) A labile, Ca2+-dependent cytoskeleton in rhabdomeral microvilli of blowflies. Cell Tissue Res 223:553–573Google Scholar
  3. Bruno MS, Barnes SN, Goldsmith TH (1977) The visual pigment and visual cycle of the lobster,Homarus. J Comp Physiol 120:123–142Google Scholar
  4. Couet HG de, Stowe S, Blest AD (in press) Membrane-associated actin in the rhabdomeral microvilli of crayfish photoreceptors. J Cell BiolGoogle Scholar
  5. Cronin TW, Goldsmith TH (1982) Quantum efficiency and photosensitivity of the rhodopsin-metarhodopsin conversion in crayfish photoreceptors. Photochem Photobiol 36:447–454Google Scholar
  6. Eguchi E, Waterman TH (1976) Freeze-etch and histochemical evidence for cycling in crayfish photoreceptor membranes. Cell Tissue Res 169:419–434Google Scholar
  7. Fernandez HR, Nickel EE (1976) Ultrastructural and molecular characteristics of crayfish photoreceptor membranes. J Cell Biol 69:721–732Google Scholar
  8. Fuortes MGF, Yeandle S (1964) Probability of occurrence of discrete potential waves in the eye ofLimulus. J Gen Physiol 47:443–463Google Scholar
  9. Goldsmith TH (1975) The polarization sensitivity-dichroic absorption paradox in arthropod photoreceptors. In: Snyder AW, Menzel R (eds) Photoreceptor optics. Springer, Berlin Heidelberg New York, pp 392–409Google Scholar
  10. Goldsmith TH, Wehner R (1977) Restrictions of rotational and translational diffusion of pigment in the membranes of a rhabdomeric photoreceptor. J Gen Physiol 70:453–490Google Scholar
  11. Hagins WA, Liebman PA (1963) The relationship between photochemical and electrical processes in living squid photoreceptors. Abstracts of the 7th Annual Meeting of the Biophysical Society, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  12. Harosi FI, MacNichol Jr EF (1974) Dichroic microspectrophotometer: a computer assisted, rapid, wavelength-scanning photometer for measuring the linear dichroism of single cells. J Opt Soc Am 64:903–918Google Scholar
  13. Israelachvili JN, Wilson M (1976) Absorption characteristics of oriented photopigments in microvilli. Biol Cybern 21:9–15Google Scholar
  14. Israelachvili JN, Sammut R, Snyder AW (1975) Birefringence and dichroism in invertebrate photoreceptors. J Opt Soc Am 65:221–222Google Scholar
  15. Koppel DE, Sheetz MP, Schindler M (1981) Matrix control of protein diffusion in biological membranes. Proc Natl Acad Sci USA 78:3576–3580Google Scholar
  16. Laughlin SB, Blest AD, Stowe S (1980) The sensitivity of receptors in the posterior median eye of the nocturnal spider,Dinopis. J Comp Physiol 141:53–65Google Scholar
  17. Leggett LMW (1976) Polarized light-sensitive interneurons in a swimming crab. Nature 262:709–711Google Scholar
  18. Leggett LMW (1976) Some visual specializations of a crustacean eye. Ph.D. thesis, Australian National UniversityGoogle Scholar
  19. Lillywhite PG (1977) Single photon signals and transduction in an insect eye. J Comp Physiol 122:189–200Google Scholar
  20. Lillywhite PG (1978) Coupling between locust photoreceptors revealed by a study of quantum bumps. J Comp Physiol 125:13–27Google Scholar
  21. Lythgoe JN, Hemmings CC (1967) Polarized light and underwater vision. Nature 213:893–894Google Scholar
  22. Martin FG, Mote MI (1982) Color receptors in marine crustaceans: A second spectral class of retinular cell in the compound eyes ofCallinectes andCarcinus. J Comp Physiol 145:549–554Google Scholar
  23. Moody MF, Parriss JR (1961) The discrimination of polarized light byOctopus: a behavioural and morphological study. Z Vergl Physiol 44:268–291Google Scholar
  24. Mote MI (1974) Polarization sensitivity. A phenomenom independent of stimulus intensity or state of adaptation in retinula cells of the crabsCarcinus andCallinectes. J Comp Physiol 90:389–403Google Scholar
  25. Muller KJ (1973) Photoreceptors in the crayfish compound eye: electrical interactions between cells as related to polarized light sensitivity. J Physiol (Lond) 232:573–595Google Scholar
  26. Odselius R, Nilsson D-E (1983) Regionally different ommatidial structure in the compound eye of the water-fleaPolyphemus (Cladocera, Crustacea). Proc R Soc London Ser B 217:177–189Google Scholar
  27. Saibil HR (1982) An ordered membrane-cytoskeleton network in squid photoreceptor microvilli. J Mol Biol 158:435–456Google Scholar
  28. Shaw SR (1966) Polarized light responses from crab retinula cells. Nature 211:92–93Google Scholar
  29. Shaw SR (1969) Sense-cell structure and interspecies comparisons of polarized light absorption in arthropod compound eyes. Vision Res 9:1031–1040Google Scholar
  30. Shaw SR (1975) Retinal resistance barriers and electrical lateral inhibition. Nature 255:480–483Google Scholar
  31. Snyder AW (1973) Polarization sensitivity of individual retinula cells. J Comp Physiol 83:331–360Google Scholar
  32. Snyder AW, Laughlin SB (1975) Dichroism and absorption by photoreceptors. J Comp Physiol 100:101–116Google Scholar
  33. Stowe S (1980a) Rapid synthesis of photoreceptor membrane and assembly of new microvilli in a crab at dusk. Cell Tissue Res 211:419–440Google Scholar
  34. Stowe S (1980b) Spectral sensitivity and retinal pigment movements in the crabLeptograpsus variegatus (Fabricius). J Exp Biol 87:73–98Google Scholar
  35. Stowe S (1983) A theoretical explanation of intensity-independent variation of polarisation sensitivity in crustacean retinula cells. J Comp Physiol 153:435–441Google Scholar
  36. Tsukahara Y, Horridge GA (1977a) Miniature potentials, light adaptation and after potentials in locust retinula cells. J Exp Biol 68:137–149Google Scholar
  37. Waterman TH (1981) Polarization sensitivity. In: Autrum H (ed) Comparative physiology and evolution of vision in invertebrates. Invertebrate visual centers and behaviour. (Handbook of sensory physiology, vol V11/6B) Springer, Berlin Heidelberg New York, pp 281–469Google Scholar
  38. Waterman TH, Fernandez HR (1970) E-vector and wavelength discrimination by retinula cells of the crayfishProcambarus. Z Vergl Physiol 68:154–174Google Scholar
  39. Waterman TH, Fernandez HR, Goldsmith TH (1969) Dichroism of photosensitive pigment in rhabdoms of the crayfishOrconectes. J Gen Physiol 54:415–432Google Scholar
  40. Winterhager E (1981) Ultrastrukturuntersuchungen an der Retina des FlußkrebsesAstacus leptodactylus mit Hilfe der Gefrierbruch- und Ultradünnschnitt-Methode. Dissertation RWTH Aachen, Institut für Neurobiologie der KFA JülichGoogle Scholar
  41. Wu CF, Pak WL (1975) Quantal basis of photoreceptor spectral sensitivity ofDrosophila melanogaster. J Gen Physiol 66:149–168Google Scholar
  42. Yamada E (1979) Electron microscopy of photoreceptive membranes. J Electron Microsc fSuppl] 28:79–86Google Scholar
  43. Yeandle S, Spiegler JB (1973) Light-evoked and spontaneous discrete waves in the ventral nerve photoreceptor ofLimulus. J Gen Physiol 61:552–571Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 1984

Authors and Affiliations

  • F. E. Doujak
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Neurobiology, Research School of Biological SciencesAustralian National UniversityCanberra CityAustralia

Personalised recommendations