Oral Presentation Society for Molecular Biology and Evolution Conference 2016

The evolution of bioluminescence and light detection in deep-sea decapods (#33)

Heather Bracken-Grissom 1 , Jorge Pérez-Moreno 1 , Hernán Vázquez Miranda 1
  1. Florida International University - Biscayne Bay Campus, North Miami, FLORIDA, United States

Many organisms rely on bioluminescence for communication, feeding, and defense, especially in the deep sea where downwelling light is limited. This research combines phylogenetic and transcriptomic studies to test several hypotheses addressing the evolution of bioluminescence and light detection in a remarkable family of deep-sea shrimp. All shrimp within the family Oplophoridae use a luminescent secretion discharged from the mouth to deter predators, while only some possess a second mechanism of bioluminescence in the form of cuticular photophores. Photophores are light-emitting organs found across the body that are thought to function in counterillumination. These different mechanisms of bioluminescence emit light at slightly different wavelengths and spectral bandwidths. Past studies have shown shrimp with both the secretion and photophores possess unique visual systems to possibly distinguish between different types of emitted bioluminescence, however genomic approaches have never been applied to investigate this system. In addition, new preliminary evidence suggests that the photophores contain photopigment proteins (opsins) that allow for light detection. This is the first indication that autogenic light organs (those in which the animal itself makes the luciferases and/or luciferins for luminescence) may also have light detection capabilities. Here, a phylogenetic approach is used to investigate the evolutionary origins of the two bioluminescence modes (secretion and photophore) within oplophorid shrimp. Secondly, this project will characterize the visual sensitivity system in the eyes of deep-sea shrimp to better understand how shrimp distinguish between different wavelengths of emitted bioluminescence. Lastly, findings will be presented that investigate the photosensitivity in a non-bacterial (autogenic) light organ – the photophore.