Sequence Analysis and Ontogenetic Expression Patterns of Cone Opsin Genes in the Bluefin Killifish (Lucania goodei)

Chia Hao Chang, Julian Catchen, Rachel L. Moran, Angel G. Rivera-Colón, Yu Chun Wang, Rebecca C. Fuller

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Sensory systems allow for the transfer of environmental stimuli into internal cues that can alter physiology and behavior. Many studies of visual systems focus on opsins to compare spectral sensitivity among individuals, populations, and species living in different lighting environments. This requires an understanding of the cone opsins, which can be numerous. The bluefin killifish is a good model for studying the interaction between environments and visual systems as they are found in both clear springs and tannin-stained swamps. We conducted a genome-wide screening and demonstrated that the bluefin killifish has 9 cone opsins: 1 SWS1 (354 nm), 2 SWS2 (SWS2B: 359 nm, SWS2A: 448 nm), 2 RH2 (RH2-2: 476 nm, RH2-1: 537 nm), and 4 LWS (LWS-1: 569 nm, LWS-2: 524 nm, LWS-3: 569 nm, LWS-R: 560 or 569 nm). These 9 cone opsins were located on 4 scaffolds. One scaffold contained the 2 SWS2 and 3 of the 4 LWS opsins in the same syntenic order as found in other cyprinodontoid fishes. We also compared opsin expression in larval and adult killifish under clear water conditions, which mimic springs. Two of the newly discovered opsins (LWS-2 and LWS-3) were expressed at low levels (<0.2%). Whether these opsins make meaningful contributions to visual perception in other contexts (i.e., swamp conditions) is unclear. In contrast, there was an ontogenetic change from using LWS-R to LWS-1 opsin. Bluefin killifish adults may be slightly more sensitive to longer wavelengths, which might be related to sexual selection and/or foraging preferences.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)357-366
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Heredity
Issue number4
StatePublished - Jun 1 2021


  • gene expression profiles
  • genome-wide screening
  • genomic organization
  • lighting environment
  • maximum wavelength of absorption
  • sensory drive

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Genetics(clinical)
  • Genetics
  • Molecular Biology
  • Biotechnology


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