Molecular evidence that only two opsin subfamilies, the blue light- (SWS2) and green light-sensitive (RH2), drive color vision in Atlantic cod (Gadus morhua)
Peer reviewed, Journal article
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Teleosts show a great variety in visual opsin complement, due to both gene duplication and gene loss. The repertoire ranges from one subfamily of visual opsins (scotopic vision) including rod opsin only retinas seen in many deep-sea species to multiple subfamilies of visual opsins in some pelagic species. We have investigated the opsin repertoire of Atlantic cod (Gadus morhua) using information in the recently sequenced cod genome and found that despite cod not being a deep sea species it lacks visual subfamilies sensitive towards the most extreme parts of the light spectra representing UV and red light. Furthermore, we find that Atlantic cod has duplicated paralogs of both blue-sensitive SWS2 and green-sensitive RH2 subfamilies, with members belonging to each subfamily linked in tandem within the genome (two SWS2-, and three RH2A genes, respectively). The presence of multiple cone opsin genes indicates that there have been duplication events in the cod ancestor SWS2 and RH2 opsins producing paralogs that have been retained in Atlantic. Our results are supported by expressional analysis of cone opsins, which further revealed an ontogenetic change in the array of cone opsins expressed. These findings suggest life stage specific programs for opsin regulation which could be linked to habitat changes and available light as the larvae is transformed into an early juvenile. Altogether we provide the first molecular evidence for color vision driven by only two families of cone opsins due to gene loss in a teleost.