A third form of polarization vision: Elliptical polarization vision in the stomatopod <em>Haptosquilla trispinosa</em> — ASN Events

A third form of polarization vision: Elliptical polarization vision in the stomatopod Haptosquilla trispinosa (#823)

Rachel Templin 1 , Yakir Gagnon 1 , Martin How 2 , Tsyr-Huei Chiou 3 , Justin Marshall 1
  1. Queensland Brain Institute, St Lucia, QLD, Australia
  2. School of Biological Sciences, The University of Bristol, Bristol, UK
  3. Department of Life Sciences, National Cheng Kung University, Tainan City, Taiwan

Linearly polarized light is common in most environments and is utilised by many animals. It is used for a number of tasks including navigation, object recognition and communication. Unlike linearly polarized light, circularly polarized light is not very common and the only animals known to have visual systems capable of detecting it are stomatopods1.

A subsection of the complex retina of stomatopods is responsible for circular polarization vision2. In this area the eighth retinular cell (R8) has the unique ability to act as a ¼ wave retarder3. When circularly polarized light enters the eye and passes through these cells it is converted to linearly polarized light. The main photoreceptor, which sits below the R8 cell, can now detect the light, as it is linear polarization sensitive2.

Cell size is important factor in an R8 cells ability to act optimally as a ¼ wave retarder. The length of the R8 cell and the width of the microvilli they are made up of are critical to its function4. Variation in R8 size can change the polarization sensitivity of the eye, resulting in a visual system that is sensitive to elliptically polarized light.

Electrophysiological evidence has revealed that Haptosquilla trispinosa are sensitive to elliptically polarized light5. And unlike Odontodactylus scyllarus, the first species demonstrated to have circular polarization vision1, H trispinosa are unable to discriminate between the two forms of circularly polarized light, left and right handed (p= 38).

This research will examine the presence of an elliptical polarization vision system in H trispinosa through a series of two-way choice paradigms, utilising operant conditioning techniques. Innate behaviour will also be used to help determine the biological relevance of an elliptical polarization vison system.

  1. Chiou, T. H., S. Kleinlogel, et al. (2008). "Circular polarization vision in a stomatopod crustacean." Curr Biol 18(6): 429-434
  2. Marshall, J., T. W. Cronin, et al. (2007). "Stomatopod eye structure and function: a review." Arthropod Struct Dev 36(4): 420-448
  3. Roberts, N. W., T. H. Chiou, et al. (2009). "A biological quater-wave retarder with excellent achromaticity in the visible wavelength region." Nature Photonics 3: 641-644
  4. Unpublished data, Roberts, N.W.
  5. Unpublished data, Chiou, T. H.