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Embryonic expression of encephalopsin supports bioluminescence perception in lanternshark photophores

Duchatelet, Laurent, Claes, Julien M., Mallefet, Jérôme
Marine biology 2019 v.166 no.2 pp. 21
Ctenophora, Etmopterus, bioluminescence, mimicry (behavior), opsin, squid, wavelengths
Counterilluminating animals produce a ventral light to hide their silhouette in the water column. This midwater camouflage technique requires a fine and dynamic control of the wavelength, angular distribution, and intensity of their luminescence, which needs to continuously match ambient downwelling light. Recently, extraocular opsins have been suggested to play a role in the bioluminescence control of several organisms, such as squids, comb jellies, or brittle stars, providing a way for photogenic structures to perceive their own light output. By analysing a growing embryonic series of the velvet belly lanternshark, Etmopterus spinax, we show that the development of lanternshark luminescence competence is associated with the expression of encephalopsin within epidermal cells and in the light-regulating structure of the photogenic organs. Such an intra-uterine expression of encephalopsin strongly supports this blue-sensitive extraocular opsin to allow bioluminescence perception in lanternshark photophores and suggests a clear physiological interaction between photoemission and photoperception.