Apr 10, 2020

The evolution of red colour vision is linked to coordinated rhodopsin tuning in lycaenid butterflies

BioRxiv : the Preprint Server for Biology
Marjorie A. LienardN. E. Pierce


Colour vision is largely mediated by changes in number, expression, and spectral properties of rhodopsins, but the genetic mechanisms underlying adaptive shifts in spectral sensitivity remain largely unexplored. Using in vivo photochemistry, optophysiology, and in vitro functional assays, we link variation in eye spectral sensitivity at long wavelengths to species-specific absorbance spectra for LW opsins in lycaenid butterflies. In addition to loci specifying an ancestral green-absorbing rhodopsin with maximum spectral sensitivity ({lambda}max) at 520-530 nm in Callophrys sheridanii and Celastrina ladon, we find a novel form of red-shifted LW rhodopsin at {lambda}max = 565-570 nm in Arhopala japonica and Eumaeus atala. Furthermore, we show that Ca. sheridanii and Ce. ladon exhibit a smaller bathochromic shift at BRh2 (480-489 nm), and with the ancestral LW rhodopsin, cannot perceive visible red light beyond 600 nm. In contrast, molecular variation at the LW opsin in A. japonica and E. atala is coordinated with tuning of the blue opsin that also shifts sensitivity to longer wavelengths enabling colour discrimination up to 617 nm. We then use E. atala as a model to examine the interplay between red and blue spectral sensitivity....Continue Reading

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