Seeing double: visual physiology of double-retina eye ontogeny in stomatopod crustaceans

Kathryn D. Feller, Jonathan H. Cohen, Thomas W. Cronin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Scopus citations


Stomatopod eye development is unusual among crustaceans. Just prior to metamorphosis, an adult retina and associated neuro-processing structures emerge adjacent to the existing material in the larval compound eye. Depending on the species, the duration of this double-retina eye can range from a few hours to several days. Although this developmental process occurs in all stomatopod species observed to date, the retinal physiology and extent to which each retina contributes to the animal’s visual sensitivity during this transition phase is unknown. We investigated the visual physiology of stomatopod double retinas using microspectrophotometry and electroretinogram recordings from different developmental stages of the Western Atlantic species Squilla empusa. Though microspectrophotometry data were inconclusive, we found robust ERG responses in both larval and adult retinas at all sampled time points indicating that the adult retina responds to light from the very onset of its emergence. We also found evidence of an increase in the response dynamics with ontogeny as well as an increase in sensitivity of retinal tissue during the double-retina phase relative to single retinas. These data provide an initial investigation into the ontogeny of vision during stomatopod double-retina eye development.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)331-339
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Comparative Physiology A: Neuroethology, Sensory, Neural, and Behavioral Physiology
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 2015
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
We thank Dr. Richard Forward for his expert advice regarding S. empusa larvae as well as the use of his laboratory facilities at the Duke University Marine Laboratory (Beaufort, North Carolina, USA). Thank you to Dr. Ellis Loew (Cornell University, Ithaca, New York, USA) for the use of his field portable MSP system and Dr. Tsyr-Huei Chiou for his advice regarding his preliminary methods with conducting stomatopod larval ERGs. Also, thank you to Mary Willard and Margaret Blake for assistance with field collections and ERG data acquisition. We minimized the number of animals used in these experiments as well as dispatched individuals on ice immediately after recording. This work was funded by a Grant-In-Aid of Research from the Society of Integrative and Comparative Biology, the United States Air Force Office of Scientific Research [FA9550-12-1-0321], and the University of Delaware Research Foundation [12A0075].

Publisher Copyright:
© 2014, Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg.


  • Electroretinogram
  • Microspectrophotometry
  • Ontogeny
  • Squilla empusa
  • Vision


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