Cone monochromacy and visual pigment spectral tuning in wobbegong sharksPublished online before print September 19, 2012
Cone monochromacy and visual pigment spectral tuning in wobbegong sharks
Susan M. Theiss, Wayne I. L. Davies, Shaun P. Collin, David M. Hunt and Nathan S. Hart
Much is known regarding the evolution of colour vision in nearly every vertebrate class, with the notable exception of the elasmobranchs. While multiple spectrally distinct cone types are found in some rays, sharks appear to possess only a single class of cone and, therefore, may be colour blind. In this study, the visual opsin genes of two wobbegong species, Orectolobus maculatus and Orectolobus ornatus, were isolated to verify the molecular basis of their monochromacy. In both species, only two opsin genes are present, RH1 (rod) and LWS (cone), which provide further evidence to support the concept that sharks possess only a single cone type. Examination of the coding sequences revealed substitutions that account for interspecific variation in the photopigment absorbance spectra, which may reflect the difference in visual ecology between these species.
Biology Letters, doi:10.1098/rsbl.2012.0703