Adaptation in the optical properties of the crystalline lens in the eyes of the Lessepsian migrant Siganus rivulatus

Yakir L. Gagnon, Nadav Shashar, Ronald H.H. Kröger

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


Vision is an important source of information for many animals. The crystalline lens plays a central role in the visual pathway and hence the ecology of fishes. In this study, we tested whether the different light regimes in the Mediterranean and Red Seas have an effect on the optical properties of the lenses in the rivulated rabbitfish, Siganus rivulatus. This species has migrated through the Suez Canal from the Red Sea and established a vital population in the Mediterranean Sea. Longitudinal spherical aberration curves and focal lengths of the fish lenses were measured by laser scans and compared between the two populations. In addition, rivulated rabbitfish from the Mediterranean Sea were exposed to colored light (yellow, green and blue) and unfiltered light for periods of 1 or 13days to test for short-term adjustments. Lens focal length was significantly longer (3%) in the Rea Sea population. The shorter focal length of the Mediterranean population can be explained as an adaptation to the dimmer light environment, as this difference makes the Mediterranean eyes 5% more sensitive than the eyes of the Red Sea population. The difference may be due to genetic differences or, more likely, adaptive developmental plasticity. Short-term regulatory mechanisms do not seem to be involved.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2724-2729
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Experimental Biology
Issue number16
StatePublished - 1 Aug 2011


  • Adaptation
  • Fish
  • Lens
  • Lessepsian migration

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Physiology
  • Aquatic Science
  • Animal Science and Zoology
  • Molecular Biology
  • Insect Science


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