University of Oulu

Honkanen A, Immonen E-V, Salmela I, Heimonen K, Weckström M. 2017 Insect photoreceptor adaptations to night vision. Phil. Trans. R. Soc. B 372: 20160077.

Insect photoreceptor adaptations to night vision

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Author: Honkanen, Anna1,2; Immonen, Esa-Ville1; Salmela, Iikka1;
Organizations: 1Nano and Molecular Systems Research Unit, Faculty of Science, University of Oulu, Oulu, Finland
2Present address: Vision Group, Department of Biology, Lund University, 223 62 Lund, Sweden
Format: article
Version: accepted version
Access: open
Online Access: PDF Full Text (PDF, 2.6 MB)
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Language: English
Published: Royal Society Publishing, 2017
Publish Date: 2018-03-29


Night vision is ultimately about extracting information from a noisy visual input. Several species of nocturnal insects exhibit complex visually guided behaviour in conditions where most animals are practically blind. The compound eyes of nocturnal insects produce strong responses to single photons and process them into meaningful neural signals, which are amplified by specialized neuroanatomical structures. While a lot is known about the light responses and the anatomical structures that promote pooling of responses to increase sensitivity, there is still a dearth of knowledge on the physiology of night vision. Retinal photoreceptors form the first bottleneck for the transfer of visual information. In this review, we cover the basics of what is known about physiological adaptations of insect photoreceptors for low-light vision. We will also discuss major enigmas of some of the functional properties of nocturnal photoreceptors, and describe recent advances in methodologies that may help to solve them and broaden the field of insect vision research to new model animals.

This article is part of the themed issue ‘Vision in dim light’.

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Series: Philosophical transactions of the Royal Society. B, Biological sciences
ISSN: 0962-8436
ISSN-E: 1471-2970
ISSN-L: 0962-8436
Volume: 372
Article number: 20160077
DOI: 10.1098/rstb.2016.0077
Type of Publication: A2 Review article in a scientific journal
Field of Science: 1184 Genetics, developmental biology, physiology
Funding: Funding was provided by the Academy of Finland to all authors.
Copyright information: © 2017 The Author(s) and the Royal Society. Published in this repository with the kind permission of the publisher.