Vision using multiple distinct rod opsins in deep-sea fishes

Zuzana Musilova, Fabio Cortesi, Michael Matschiner, Wayne I.L. Davies, Jagdish Suresh Patel, Sara M. Stieb, Fanny de Busserolles, Martin Malmstrøm, Ole K. Tørresen, Celeste J. Brown, Jessica K. Mountford, Reinhold Hanel, Deborah L. Stenkamp, Kjetill S. Jakobsen, Karen L. Carleton, Sissel Jentoft, Justin Marshall, Walter Salzburger

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

93 Scopus citations


Vertebrate vision is accomplished through light-sensitive photopigments consisting of an opsin protein bound to a chromophore. In dim light, vertebrates generally rely on a single rod opsin [rhodopsin 1 (RH1)] for obtaining visual information. By inspecting 101 fish genomes, we found that three deep-sea teleost lineages have independently expanded their RH1 gene repertoires. Among these, the silver spinyfin (Diretmus argenteus) stands out as having the highest number of visual opsins in vertebrates (two cone opsins and 38 rod opsins). Spinyfins express up to 14 RH1s (including the most blueshifted rod photopigments known), which cover the range of the residual daylight as well as the bioluminescence spectrum present in the deep sea. Our findings present molecular and functional evidence for the recurrent evolution of multiple rod opsin-based vision in vertebrates.
Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)588-592
Number of pages5
Issue number6440
StatePublished - May 9 2019

Bibliographical note

KAUST Repository Item: Exported on 2020-10-01
Acknowledgements: Acknowledgments: We thank A. Bentley, M. Berenbrink, W.-S. Chung, A. Indermaur, X. Irigoien, S. Kaartvedt, L. Kalous, M. D. MacDonald, J. Peterka, G. Phillips, J. Y. Poulsen, E. S. Riiser, A. Rostad, O. Roth, A. G. Salvanes, H. T. Baalsrud, and L. Frey (HBOI/Blue Turtle Engineering) for help in the field and/or for providing samples; the staff of the Lizard Island Research Station for logistical support; the captains and crews of the research vessels Seward Johnson, Walther Herwig III, Sonne, G. O. Sars, Thuwal, Maria S. Merian, and Trygve Braarud for the opportunity to participate and collect samples; the Norwegian Sequencing Centre (NSC), University of Oslo, and the McGill University and Génome Quebéc Innovation Centre for performing whole-genome sequencing; J. Edson (Queensland Brain Institute), C. Beisel (D-BSSE, Basel), and C. Michell (KAUST) and teams for help with transcriptome sequencing; the Center for scientific computing @ University of Basel (sciCORE), the High-Performance Computing Center at Idaho National Laboratory (supported by the Office of Nuclear Energy of the U.S. DOE and the Nuclear Science User Facilities under contract DE-AC07-05ID14517), and the Abel Supercomputing Cluster [Norwegian metacenter for High Performance Computing (NOTUR) and the University of Oslo] operated by the Research Computing Services group at USIT, the University of Oslo IT department ( for computational resources; the Waitt Foundation for Discovery for hosting and support; F. Santini for discussions regarding fossil calibrations; and anonymous referees for insightful comments and suggestions that improved the manuscript.


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