Document Type





Recent genome sequence analysis in the red flour beetle Tribolium castaneum indicated that this highly crepuscular animal encodes only two single opsin paralogs: a UV-opsin and a long wavelength (LW)-opsin; however, these animals do not encode a blue (B)-opsin as most other insects. Here, we studied the spatial regulation of the Tribolium single LW- and UV-opsin gene paralogs in comparison to that of the five opsin paralogs in the retina of Drosophila melanogaster.


In situ hybridization analysis reveals that the Tribolium retina, in contrast with other insect retinas, constitutes a homogenous field of ommatidia that have seven LW-opsin expressing photoreceptors and one UV-/LW-opsin co-expressing photoreceptor per eye unit. This pattern is consistent with the loss of photoreceptors sensitive to blue wavelengths. It also identifies Tribolium as the first example of a species in insects that co-expresses two different opsins across the entire retina in violation of the widely observed "one receptor rule" of sensory cells.


Broader studies of opsin evolution in darkling beetles and other coleopteran groups have the potential to pinpoint the permissive and adaptive forces that played a role in the evolution of vision in Tribolium castaneum.


Entomology | Genetics and Genomics