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A butterfly eye's view of birds

Frentiu, F.D. & Briscoe, A.D. (2008) A butterfly eye's view of birds. BioEssays, 30(11-12), pp. 1151-1162.

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Abstract

The striking color patterns of butterflies and birds have long interested biologists. But how these animals see color is less well understood. Opsins are the protein components of the visual pigments of the eye. Color vision has evolved in butterflies through opsin gene duplications, through positive selection at individual opsin loci, and by the use of filtering pigments. By contrast, birds have retained the same opsin complement present in early-jawed vertebrates, and their visual system has diversified primarily through tuning of the short-wavelength-sensitive photoreceptors, rather than by opsin duplication or the use of filtering elements. Butterflies and birds have evolved photoreceptors that might use some of the same amino acid sites for generating similar spectral phenotypes across approximately 540 million years of evolution, when rhabdomeric and ciliary-type opsins radiated during the early Cambrian period. Considering the similarities between the two taxa, it is surprising that the eyes of birds are not more diverse. Additional taxonomic sampling of birds may help clarify this mystery.

Impact and interest:

10 citations in Scopus
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11 citations in Web of Science®

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ID Code: 54092
Item Type: Journal Article
Keywords: adaptation, butterflies, opsin genes
DOI: 10.1002/bies.20828
ISSN: 0265-9247
Subjects: Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES (060000)
Divisions: Current > QUT Faculties and Divisions > Faculty of Health
Current > Institutes > Institute of Health and Biomedical Innovation
Deposited On: 12 Oct 2012 11:05
Last Modified: 15 Oct 2012 10:33

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