Many marine species can regulate the intensity of bioluminescence from their ventral photophores in order to counterilluminate, a camoufage technique whereby animals closely match the intensity of the downwelling illumination blocked by their bodies, thereby hiding their silhouettes. Recent studies on autogenic cuticular photophores in deep-sea shrimps indicate that the photophores themselves are light sensitive. Here, our results suggest photosensitivity in a second type of autogenic photophore, the internal organs of Pesta, found in deep-sea sergestid shrimps. Experiments were conducted onboard ship on live specimens, exposing the animals to bright light, which resulted in ultrastructural changes that matched those seen in crustacean eyes during the photoreceptor membrane turnover, a process that is crucial for the proper functioning of photosensitive components. In addition, RNA-seq studies demonstrated the expression of visual opsins and phototransduction genes in photophore tissue that are known to play a role in light detection, and electrophysiological measurements indicated that the light organs are responding to light received by the eyes. The long sought after mechanism of counterillumination remains unknown, but evidence of photosensitivity in photophores may indicate a dual functionality of light detection and emission.
Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.
Tamara Frank, Jamie Sickles, Danielle M. DeLeo, Patricia Blackwelder, and Heather Bracken-Grissom. 2023. Putative photosensitivity in internal light organs (organs of Pesta) of deep-sea sergestid shrimps .Scientific Reports , (13) . https://nsuworks.nova.edu/occ_facarticles/1364.