Seeing Under Water

Dragonfly

Widow Skimmer Dragonfly

Dragonfly larvae live underwater and adults live in air, two very different environments that require different adaptive traits. Much of the visible light is reflected or refracted by the surface of the water. The quality and quantity of light is different under water than in the air.  The visual system of dragonfly larvae differs from that of the adult to better adapt to the underwater visual environment.

Dragonflies have at least 33 genes for opsins*, the light receptor proteins in the visual system. The set of opsins expressed in larvae is different from the opsins expressed in the adult eye. Presumably the different visual receptors of the larvae are better adapted to the underwater visual environment. Dragonfly larvae are predators that rely on vision to capture prey and a well functioning visual system is critical to their survival.

*Extraordinary diversity of visual opsin genes in dragonflies. Ryo Futahashia, Ryouka Kawahara-Miki Michiyo Kinoshita, Kazutoshi Yoshitake, Shunsuke Yajima, Kentaro Arikawa and Takema Fukatsu. 2015. PNAS 112 no. 11: E1247–E1256
doi: 10.1073/pnas.1424670112

About jjneal

Jonathan Neal is an Associate Professor of Entomology at Purdue University and author of the textbook, Living With Insects (2010). This blog is a forum to communicate about the intersection of insects with people and policy. This is a personal blog. The opinions and materials posted here are those of the author and are in no way connected with those of my employer.
This entry was posted in Biomaterials, by jjneal, Environment, Vision. Bookmark the permalink.

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