University of Oulu

In vitro electrophysiology of photoreceptors of two nocturnal insect species, Periplaneta americana and Gryllus bimaculatus

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Author: Immonen, Esa-Ville1
Organizations: 1University of Oulu, Faculty of Science, Department of Physics and Chemistry
Format: ebook
Version: published version
Access: open
Online Access: PDF Full Text (PDF, 2.6 MB)
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Language: English
Published: 2014
Publish Date: 2014-11-14
Thesis type: Doctoral Dissertation
Defence Note: Academic dissertation to be presented, with the permission of the Doctoral training committee for Technology and Natural science of the University of Oulu, for public discussion in the Auditorium L6, Linnanmaa, on 12th December, 2014, at 12 o’clock noon.
Reviewer: Professor Roger C. Hardie
Professor Victor Benno Meyer-Rochow
Opponent: Professor Roger C. Hardie
Kustos: Professor Matti Weckström


In dim light, reliable coding of visual information becomes compromised, unless the sensitivity of the visual system to light is improved by structural and functional adaptations. Thus far, many adaptations for night vision in the compound eyes of nocturnal insects have been described, but little is known about the mechanisms underlying the electrochemical signalling in their photoreceptors.

In this thesis, whole-cell patch-clamp and mathematical modelling are utilised to study basic electrical properties and ionic currents in photoreceptors of two nocturnal insects, the American cockroach Periplaneta americana and the field cricket Gryllus bimaculatus.

Photoreceptors in both species showed large input resistance, membrane capacitance and phototransduction gain (large single photon responses) compared with most studied diurnal insects, providing improved sensitivity to light. The photoreceptors also expressed two voltage-sensitive outward currents: a transient current and a sustained current. The cricket photoreceptor expressed a dominating transient current, which is a typical characteristic for insects adapted for slow vision in dim light. By contrast, in the majority of cockroach photoreceptors the sustained current dominated, which is more common among fast diurnal species. Model simulations indicated that the sustained current is necessary for improved photoreceptor dynamics. Examination of light-induced currents suggested that the functional variability in cockroach photoreceptors is in part derived from variations in the total area of the photosensitive membrane. Recordings of light-induced currents also revealed that the cockroach light-gated channels are only moderately Ca2+-selective and that the polarisation-sensitive photoreceptors of the cricket may utilise phototransduction machinery in some details different from that in regular photoreceptors. Furthermore, the dynamics and information transfer rates of polarisation-sensitive photoreceptors in the cricket were clearly inferior to their regular counterparts, suggesting that they are not necessary for image formation.

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Series: Report series in physical sciences
ISSN: 1239-4327
ISSN-L: 1239-4327
ISBN: 978-952-62-0647-9
ISBN Print: 978-952-62-0646-2
Issue: 93
Copyright information: © University of Oulu, 2014. This publication is copyrighted. You may download, display and print it for your own personal use. Commercial use is prohibited.