A detailed investigation of the visual system and visual ecology of the Barrier Reef anemonefish, Amphiprion akindynos.
ABSTRACT: Vision plays a major role in the life of most teleosts, and is assumingly well adapted to each species ecology and behaviour. Using a multidisciplinary approach, we scrutinised several aspects of the visual system and ecology of the Great Barrier Reef anemonefish, Amphiprion akindynos, including its orange with white patterning, retinal anatomy and molecular biology, its symbiosis with anemones and sequential hermaphroditism. Amphiprion akindynos possesses spectrally distinct visual pigments and opsins: one rod opsin, RH1 (498?nm), and five cone opsins, SWS1 (370?nm), SWS2B (408?nm), RH2B (498?nm), RH2A (520?nm), and LWS (554?nm). Cones were arranged in a regular mosaic with each single cone surrounded by four double cones. Double cones mainly expressed RH2B (53%) in one member and RH2A (46%) in the other, matching the prevailing light. Single cones expressed SWS1 (89%), which may serve to detect zooplankton, conspecifics and the host anemone. Moreover, a segregated small fraction of single cones coexpressed SWS1 with SWS2B (11%). This novel visual specialisation falls within the region of highest acuity and is suggested to increase the chromatic contrast of Amphiprion akindynos colour patterns, which might improve detection of conspecifics.
Project description:Coral reefs are one of the most spectrally diverse environments, both in terms of habitat and animal color. Species identity, sex, and camouflage are drivers of the phenotypic diversity seen in coral reef fishes, but how the phenotypic diversity is reflected in the genotype remains to be answered. The labrids are a large, polyphyletic family of coral reef fishes that display a diverse range of colors, including developmental color morphs and extensive behavioral ecologies. Here, we assess the opsin sequence and expression diversity among labrids from the Great Barrier Reef, Australia. We found that labrids express a diverse palette of visual opsins, with gene duplications in both RH2 and LWS genes. The majority of opsins expressed were within the mid-to-long wavelength sensitive classes (RH2 and LWS). Three of the labrid species expressed SWS1 (ultra-violet sensitive) opsins with the majority expressing the violet-sensitive SWS2B gene and none expressing SWS2A. We used knowledge about spectral tuning sites to calculate approximate spectral sensitivities (?max) for individual species' visual pigments, which corresponded well with previously published ?max values for closely related species (SWS1: 356-370 nm; SWS2B: 421-451 nm; RH2B: 452-492 nm; RH2A: 516-528 nm; LWS1: 554-555 nm; LWS2: 561-562 nm). In contrast to the phenotypic diversity displayed via color patterns and feeding ecology, there was little amino acid diversity within the known opsin sequence tuning sites. However, gene duplications and differential expression provide alternative mechanisms for tuning visual pigments, resulting in variable visual sensitivities among labrid species.
Project description:Vision is a critical sense for organismal survival with visual sensitivities strongly shaped by the environment. Some freshwater fishes with a Gondwanan origin are distributed in both South American rivers including the Amazon and African rivers and lakes. These different habitats likely required adaptations to murky and clear environments. In this study, we compare the molecular basis of Amazonian and African cichlid fishes' visual systems. We used next-generation sequencing of genomes and retinal transcriptomes to examine three Amazonian cichlid species. Genome assemblies revealed six cone opsin classes (SWS1, SWS2B, SWS2A, RH2B, RH2A and LWS) and rod opsin (RH1). However, the functionality of these genes varies across species with different pseudogenes found in different species. Our results support evidence of an RH2A gene duplication event that is shared across both cichlid groups, but which was probably followed by gene conversion. Transcriptome analyses show that Amazonian species mainly express three opsin classes (SWS2A, RH2A and LWS), which likely are a good match to the long-wavelength-oriented light environment of the Amazon basin. Furthermore, analysis of amino acid sequences suggests that the short-wavelength-sensitive genes (SWS2B, SWS2A) may be under selective pressures to shift their spectral properties to a longer-wavelength visual palette. Our results agree with the 'sensitivity hypothesis' where the light environment causes visual adaptation. Amazonian cichlid visual systems are likely adapting through gene expression, gene loss and possibly spectral tuning of opsin sequences. Such mechanisms may be shared across the Amazonian fish fauna.
Project description:African cichlids are an exemplary system to study organismal diversity and rapid speciation. Species differ in external morphology including jaw shape and body coloration, but also differ in sensory systems including vision. All cichlids have 7 cone opsin genes with species differing broadly in which opsins are expressed. The differential opsin expression results in closely related species with substantial differences in spectral sensitivity of their photoreceptors. In this work, we take a first step in determining the genetic basis of opsin expression in cichlids. Using a second generation cross between 2 species with different opsin expression patterns, we make a conservative estimate that short wavelength opsin expression is regulated by a few loci. Genetic mapping in 96 F2 hybrids provides clear evidence of a cis-regulatory region for SWS1 opsin that explains 34% of the variation in expression between the 2 species. Additionally, in situ hybridization has shown that SWS1 and SWS2B opsins are coexpressed in individual single cones in the retinas of F2 progeny. Results from this work will contribute to a better understanding of the genetic architecture underlying opsin expression. This knowledge will help answer long-standing questions about the evolutionary processes fundamental to opsin expression variation and how this contributes to adaptive cichlid divergence.
Project description:To convert external light into internal neural signal, vertebrates rely on a special group of proteins, the visual opsins. Four of the five types of visual opsins-short-wavelength sensitive 1 (Sws1), short-wavelength sensitive 2 (Sws2), medium-wavelength sensitive (Rh2), and long-wavelength sensitive (Lws)-are expressed in cone cells for scotopic vision, with the fifth, rhodopsin (Rh1), being expressed in rod cells for photopic vision. Fish often display differing ontogenetic cone opsin expression profiles, which may be related to dietary and/or habitat ontogenetic shift. The western mosquitofish (Gambusia affinis) is an aggressive invader that has successfully colonized every continent except Antarctica. The strong invasiveness of this species may be linked to its visual acuity since it can inhabit turbid waters better than other fishes. By genome screening and transcriptome analysis, we identify seven cone opsin genes in the western mosquitofish, including one sws1, two sws2, one rh2, and three lws. The predicted maximal absorbance wavelength (?max) values of the respective proteins are 353 nm for Sws1, 449 nm for Sws2a, 408 nm for Sws2b, 516 nm for Rh2-1, 571 nm for Lws-1, and 519 nm for Lws-3. Retention of an intron in the lws-r transcript likely renders this visual opsin gene non-functional. Our real-time quantitative PCR demonstrates that adult male and female western mosquitofish do not differ in their cone opsin expression profiles, but we do reveal an ontogenetic shift in cone opsin expression. Compared to adults, larvae express proportionally more sws1 and less lws-1, suggesting that the western mosquitofish is more sensitive to shorter wavelengths in the larval stage, but becomes more sensitive to longer wavelengths in adulthood.
Project description:We isolated five classes of retinal opsin genes rh1(Cl), rh2(Cl), sws1(Cl), sws2(Cl), and lws(Cl) from the pigeon; these encode RH1(Cl), RH2(Cl), SWS1(Cl), SWS2(Cl), and LWS(Cl) opsins, respectively. Upon binding to 11-cis-retinal, these opsins regenerate the corresponding photosensitive molecules, visual pigments. The absorbance spectra of visual pigments have a broad bell shape with the peak, being called lambdamax. Previously, the SWS1(Cl) opsin cDNA was isolated from the pigeon retinal RNA, expressed in cultured COS1 cells, reconstituted with 11-cis-retinal, and the lambdamax of the resulting SWS1(Cl) pigment was shown to be 393 nm. In this article, using the same methods, the lambdamax values of RH1(Cl), RH2(Cl), SWS2(Cl), and LWS(Cl) pigments were determined to be 502, 503, 448, and 559 nm, respectively. The pigeon is also known for its UV vision, detecting light at 320-380 nm. Being the only pigments that absorb light below 400 nm, the SWS1(Cl) pigments must mediate its UV vision. We also determined that a nonretinal P(Cl) pigment in the pineal gland of the pigeon has a lambdamax value at 481 nm.
Project description:Vision is very important to fish as it is required for foraging food, fighting competitors, fleeing from predators, and finding potential mates. Vertebrates express opsin genes in photoreceptor cells to receive visual signals, and the variety of light levels in aquatic habits has driven fish to evolve multiple opsin genes with expression profiles that are highly plastic. In this study, red shiners (Cyprinella lutrensis) were exposed to four water turbidity treatments and their opsin genes were cloned to elucidate how opsin gene expression could be modulated by ambient light conditions. Opsin gene cloning revealed that these fish have single RH1, SWS1, SWS2 and LWS genes and two RH2 genes. Phylogenetic analysis also indicated that these two RH2 opsin genes-RH2A and RH2B -are in-paralogous. Using quantitative PCR, we found evidence that opsin expression is plastic in adults. Elevated proportional expression of LWS in the cone under ambient light and turbid treatment indicated that the red shiner's visual spectrum displays a red shift in response to increased turbidity.
Project description:Critical behaviours such as predation and mate choice often depend on vision. Visual systems are sensitive to the spectrum of light in their environment, which can vary extensively both within and among habitats. Evolutionary changes in spectral sensitivity contribute to divergence and speciation. Spectral sensitivity of the retina is primarily determined by visual pigments, which are opsin proteins bound to a chromophore. We recently discovered that photoreceptors in different regions of the retina, which view objects against distinct environmental backgrounds, coexpress different pairs of opsins in an African cichlid fish, Metriaclima zebra. This coexpression tunes the sensitivity of the retinal regions to the corresponding backgrounds and may aid in detection of dark objects, such as predators. Although intraretinal regionalization of spectral sensitivity in many animals correlates with their light environments, it is unknown whether variation in the light environment induces developmentally plastic alterations of intraretinal sensitivity regions. Here, we demonstrate with fluorescent in situ hybridization and qPCR that the spectrum and angle of environmental light both influence the development of spectral sensitivity regions by altering the distribution and level of opsins across the retina. Normally, M. zebra coexpresses LWS opsin with RH2A? opsin in double cones of the ventral but not the dorsal retina. However, when illuminated from below throughout development, adult M. zebra coexpressed LWS and RH2A? in double cones both dorsally and ventrally. Thus, environmental background spectra alter the spectral sensitivity pattern that develops across the retina, potentially influencing behaviours and related evolutionary processes such as courtship and speciation.
Project description:BACKGROUND:Jenynsia onca, commonly known as the one sided livebearer, is a member of the family Anablepidae. The opsin gene repertoires of J. onca's close relatives, the four-eyed fish (Anableps anableps) and the guppy (Poecilia reticulata), have been characterized and each found to include one unique LWS opsin. Currently, the relationship among LWS paralogs and orthologs in these species are unclear, making it difficult to test the hypotheses that link vision to morphology or life history traits. The phylogenetic signal appears to have been disrupted by gene conversion. Here we have sequenced the opsin genes of J. onca in order to resolve these relationships. FINDINGS:We identified nine visual opsins; LWS S180r, LWS S180, LWS P180, SWS1, SWS2A, SWS2B, RH1, RH2-1, and RH2-2. Key site analysis revealed only one unique haplotype, RH2-2, although this is unlikely to shift lambdamax significantly. LWS P180 was found to be a product of a gene conversion event with LWS S180, followed by convergence to a proline residue at the 180 site. CONCLUSION:Jenynsia onca has at least 9 visual opsins: three LWS, one RH1, two RH2, one SWS1 and two SWS2. The presence of LWS P180 moves the location of the LWS P180-S180 tandem duplication event back to the base of the Poeciliidae-Anablepidae clade, expanding the number of species possessing this unusual blue shifted LWS opsin. The presence of the LWS P180 gene also confirms that gene conversion events have homogenized opsin paralogs in fish, just as they have in humans.
Project description:Morphological divergences of snake retinal structure point to complex evolutionary processes and adaptations. The Colubridae family has a remarkable variety of retinal structure that can range from all-cone and all-rod to duplex (cone/rod) retinas. To explore whether nocturnal versus diurnal activity is responsible for constraints on molecular evolution and plays a role in visual opsin spectral tuning of colubrids, we carried out molecular evolution analyses of the visual opsin genes LWS, RH1, and SWS1 from 17 species and performed morphological analyses.Phylogenetic reconstructions of the RH1 and LWS recovered major clades characterized by primarily diurnal or primarily nocturnal activity patterns, in contrast with the topology for SWS1, which is very similar to the species tree. We found stronger signals of purifying selection along diurnal and nocturnal lineages for RH1 and SWS1, respectively. A blue-shift of the RH1 spectral peak is associated with diurnal habits. Spectral tuning of cone opsins did not differ among diurnal and nocturnal species. Retinas of nocturnal colubrids had many rows of photoreceptor nuclei, with large numbers of rods, labeled by wheat germ agglutinin (WGA), and two types of cones: large cones sensitive to long/medium wavelengths (L/M) and small cones sensitive to ultra-violet/violet wavelengths (UV/VS). In contrast, retinas of diurnal species had only one row of photoreceptor nuclei, with four types of cones: large and double L/M cones, small UV/VS cones, and a second group of small cones, labeled by WGA.For LWS gene, selection tests did not confirm different constraints related to activity pattern. For SWS1, stronger purifying selection in nocturnal lineages indicates divergent evolutionary pressures related to the activity pattern, and the importance of the short wavelength sensitivity at low light condition. Activity pattern has a clear influence on the signatures of selection and spectral tuning of RH1, with stronger purifying selection in diurnal lineages, which indicates selective pressure to preserve rhodopsin structure and function in pure-cone retinas. We suggest that the presence of four cone types in primarily diurnal colubrids might be related to the gain of color discrimination capacity.
Project description:BACKGROUND: Gene duplications play an important role in the evolution of functional protein diversity. Some models of duplicate gene evolution predict complex forms of paralog divergence; orthologous proteins may diverge as well, further complicating patterns of divergence among and within gene families. Consequently, studying the link between protein sequence evolution and duplication requires the use of flexible substitution models that can accommodate multiple shifts in selection across a phylogeny. Here, we employed a variety of codon substitution models, primarily Clade models, to explore how selective constraint evolved following the duplication of a green-sensitive (RH2a) visual pigment protein (opsin) in African cichlids. Past studies have linked opsin divergence to ecological and sexual divergence within the African cichlid adaptive radiation. Furthermore, biochemical and regulatory differences between the RH2a? and RH2a? paralogs have been documented. It thus seems likely that selection varies in complex ways throughout this gene family. RESULTS: Clade model analysis of African cichlid RH2a opsins revealed a large increase in the nonsynonymous-to-synonymous substitution rate ratio (?) following the duplication, as well as an even larger increase, one consistent with positive selection, for Lake Tanganyikan cichlid RH2a? opsins. Analysis using the popular Branch-site models, by contrast, revealed no such alteration of constraint. Several amino acid sites known to influence spectral and non-spectral aspects of opsin biochemistry were found to be evolving divergently, suggesting that orthologous RH2a opsins may vary in terms of spectral sensitivity and response kinetics. Divergence appears to be occurring despite intronic gene conversion among the tandemly-arranged duplicates. CONCLUSIONS: Our findings indicate that variation in selective constraint is associated with both gene duplication and divergence among orthologs in African cichlid RH2a opsins. At least some of this variation may reflect an adaptive response to differences in light environment. Interestingly, these patterns only became apparent through the use of Clade models, not through the use of the more widely employed Branch-site models; we suggest that this difference stems from the increased flexibility associated with Clade models. Our results thus bear both on studies of cichlid visual system evolution and on studies of gene family evolution in general.