Optic-nerve-transmitted eyeshine, a new type of light emission from fish eyes

Fritsch, Roland, Ullmann, Jeremy F. P., Bitton, Pierre-Paul, Collin, Shaun P. and Michiels, Nico K. (2017) Optic-nerve-transmitted eyeshine, a new type of light emission from fish eyes. Frontiers in Zoology, 14 1: . doi:10.1186/s12983-017-0198-9

Author Fritsch, Roland
Ullmann, Jeremy F. P.
Bitton, Pierre-Paul
Collin, Shaun P.
Michiels, Nico K.
Title Optic-nerve-transmitted eyeshine, a new type of light emission from fish eyes
Journal name Frontiers in Zoology   Check publisher's open access policy
ISSN 1742-9994
Publication date 2017-02-27
Sub-type Article (original research)
DOI 10.1186/s12983-017-0198-9
Open Access Status DOI
Volume 14
Issue 1
Total pages 20
Place of publication London, United Kingdom
Publisher BioMed Central
Language eng
Formatted abstract
Background: Most animal eyes feature an opaque pigmented eyecup to assure that light can enter from one direction only. We challenge this dogma by describing a previously unknown form of eyeshine resulting from light that enters the eye through the top of the head and optic nerve, eventually emanating through the pupil as a narrow beam: the Optic-Nerve-Transmitted (ONT) eyeshine. We characterize ONT eyeshine in the triplefin blenny Tripterygion delaisi (Tripterygiidae) in comparison to three other teleost species, using behavioural and anatomical observations, spectrophotometry, histology, and magnetic resonance imaging. The study's aim is to identify the factors that determine ONT eyeshine occurrence and intensity, and whether these are specifically adapted for that purpose.

Results: ONT eyeshine intensity benefits from locally reduced head pigmentation, a thin skull, the gap between eyes and forebrain, the potential light-guiding properties of the optic nerve, and, most importantly, a short distance between the head surface and the optic nerves.

Conclusions: The generality of these factors and the lack of specifically adapted features implies that ONT eyeshine is widespread among small fish species. Nevertheless, its intensity varies considerably, depending on the specific combination and varying expression of common anatomical features. We discuss whether ONT eyeshine might affect visual performance, and speculate about possible functions such as predator detection, camouflage, and intraspecific communication.
Keyword Eye anatomy
Light guidance
Marine visual ecology
Optic nerve
Tripterygion delaisi
Q-Index Code C1
Q-Index Status Provisional Code
Institutional Status UQ

Document type: Journal Article
Sub-type: Article (original research)
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Centre for Advanced Imaging Publications
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