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Visual reliability and information rate in the retina of a nocturnal bee.

Publiceringsår: 2008
Språk: Engelska
Sidor: 349-353
Publikation/Tidskrift/Serie: Current Biology
Volym: 18
Nummer: 5
Dokumenttyp: Artikel i tidskrift
Förlag: Elsevier


Nocturnal animals relying on vision typically have eyes that are optically and morphologically adapted for both increased sensitivity and greater information capacity in dim light [1]. Here, we investigate whether adaptations for increased sensitivity also are found in their photoreceptors by using closely related and fast-flying nocturnal and diurnal bees as model animals. The nocturnal bee Megalopta genalis is capable of foraging and homing by using visually discriminated landmarks at starlight intensities [2, 3]. Megalopta's near relative, Lasioglossum leucozonium, performs these tasks only in bright sunshine. By recording intracellular responses to Gaussian white-noise stimuli [4, 5], we show that photoreceptors in Megalopta actually code less information at most light levels than those in Lasioglossum. However, as in several other nocturnal arthropods [6-13], Megalopta's photoreceptors possess a much greater gain of transduction, indicating that nocturnal photoreceptors trade information capacity for sensitivity. By sacrificing photoreceptor signal-to-noise ratio and information capacity in dim light for an increased gain and, thus, an increased sensitivity, this strategy can benefit nocturnal insects that use neural summation to improve visual reliability at night.


  • Zoology


  • ISSN: 1879-0445

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