Header

UZH-Logo

Maintenance Infos

Sunscreen for fish: co-option of UV light protection for camouflage


Mueller, Kaspar P; Neuhauss, Stephan C F (2014). Sunscreen for fish: co-option of UV light protection for camouflage. PLoS ONE, 9(1):e87372.

Abstract

Many animals change their body pigmentation according to illumination of their environment. In aquatic vertebrates, this reaction is mediated through aggregation or dispersion of melanin-filled vesicles (melanosomes) in dermal pigment cells (melanophores). The adaptive value of this behavior is usually seen in camouflage by allowing the animal to visually blend into the background. When exposed to visible light from below, however, dark-adapted zebrafish embryos at the age of 2 days post fertilization (dpf) surprisingly display dispersal instead of aggregation of melanosomes, i.e. their body coloration becomes dark on a bright background. Melanosomes of older embryos and early larvae (3-5 dpf) on the other hand aggregate as expected under these conditions. Here we provide an explanation to this puzzling finding: Melanosome dispersion in larvae 3 dpf and older is efficiently triggered by ultraviolet (UV) light, irrespective of the visual background, suggesting that the extent of pigmentation is a trade-off between threats from predation and UV irradiation. The UV light-induced dispersion of melanosomes thereby is dependent on input from retinal short wavelength-sensitive (SWS) cone photoreceptors. In young embryos still lacking a functional retina, protection from UV light predominates, and light triggers a dispersal of melanosomes via photoreceptors intrinsic to the melanophores, regardless of the actual UV content. In older embryos and early larvae with functional retinal photoreceptors in contrast, this light-induced dispersion is counteracted by a delayed aggregation in the absence of UV light. These data suggest that the primary function of melanosome dispersal has evolved as a protective adaption to prevent UV damage, which was only later co-opted for camouflage.

Abstract

Many animals change their body pigmentation according to illumination of their environment. In aquatic vertebrates, this reaction is mediated through aggregation or dispersion of melanin-filled vesicles (melanosomes) in dermal pigment cells (melanophores). The adaptive value of this behavior is usually seen in camouflage by allowing the animal to visually blend into the background. When exposed to visible light from below, however, dark-adapted zebrafish embryos at the age of 2 days post fertilization (dpf) surprisingly display dispersal instead of aggregation of melanosomes, i.e. their body coloration becomes dark on a bright background. Melanosomes of older embryos and early larvae (3-5 dpf) on the other hand aggregate as expected under these conditions. Here we provide an explanation to this puzzling finding: Melanosome dispersion in larvae 3 dpf and older is efficiently triggered by ultraviolet (UV) light, irrespective of the visual background, suggesting that the extent of pigmentation is a trade-off between threats from predation and UV irradiation. The UV light-induced dispersion of melanosomes thereby is dependent on input from retinal short wavelength-sensitive (SWS) cone photoreceptors. In young embryos still lacking a functional retina, protection from UV light predominates, and light triggers a dispersal of melanosomes via photoreceptors intrinsic to the melanophores, regardless of the actual UV content. In older embryos and early larvae with functional retinal photoreceptors in contrast, this light-induced dispersion is counteracted by a delayed aggregation in the absence of UV light. These data suggest that the primary function of melanosome dispersal has evolved as a protective adaption to prevent UV damage, which was only later co-opted for camouflage.

Statistics

Citations

9 citations in Web of Science®
10 citations in Scopus®
Google Scholar™

Altmetrics

Downloads

24 downloads since deposited on 17 Apr 2014
6 downloads since 12 months
Detailed statistics

Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:04 Faculty of Medicine > Center for Integrative Human Physiology
07 Faculty of Science > Institute of Molecular Life Sciences
Dewey Decimal Classification:570 Life sciences; biology
610 Medicine & health
Language:German
Date:2014
Deposited On:17 Apr 2014 06:35
Last Modified:07 Aug 2017 10:26
Publisher:Public Library of Science (PLoS)
ISSN:1932-6203
Free access at:PubMed ID. An embargo period may apply.
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0087372
PubMed ID:24489905

Download

Preview Icon on Download
Preview
Content: Published Version
Filetype: PDF
Size: 954kB
View at publisher
Licence: Creative Commons: Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0)

TrendTerms

TrendTerms displays relevant terms of the abstract of this publication and related documents on a map. The terms and their relations were extracted from ZORA using word statistics. Their timelines are taken from ZORA as well. The bubble size of a term is proportional to the number of documents where the term occurs. Red, orange, yellow and green colors are used for terms that occur in the current document; red indicates high interlinkedness of a term with other terms, orange, yellow and green decreasing interlinkedness. Blue is used for terms that have a relation with the terms in this document, but occur in other documents.
You can navigate and zoom the map. Mouse-hovering a term displays its timeline, clicking it yields the associated documents.

Author Collaborations