Color blindness and contrast perception in cuttlefish (Sepia officinalis) determined by a visual sensorimotor assay. (1/40)

We tested color perception based upon a robust behavioral response in which cuttlefish (Sepia officinalis) respond to visual stimuli (a black and white checkerboard) with a quantifiable, neurally controlled motor response (a body pattern). In the first experiment, we created 16 checkerboard substrates in which 16 grey shades (from white to black) were paired with one green shade (matched to the maximum absorption wavelength of S. officinalis' sole visual pigment, 492 nm), assuming that one of the grey shades would give a similar achromatic signal to the tested green. In the second experiment, we created a checkerboard using one blue and one yellow shade whose intensities were matched to the cuttlefish's visual system. In both assays it was tested whether cuttlefish would show disruptive coloration on these checkerboards, indicating their ability to distinguish checkers based solely on wavelength (i.e., color). Here, we show clearly that cuttlefish must be color blind, as they showed non-disruptive coloration on the checkerboards whose color intensities were matched to the Sepia visual system, suggesting that the substrates appeared to their eyes as uniform backgrounds. Furthermore, we show that cuttlefish are able to perceive objects in their background that differ in contrast by approximately 15%. This study adds support to previous reports that S. officinalis is color blind, yet the question of how cuttlefish achieve "color-blind camouflage" in chromatically rich environments still remains.  (+info)

Critical temperatures in the cephalopod Sepia officinalis investigated using in vivo 31P NMR spectroscopy. (2/40)

The present study was designed to test the hypothesis of an oxygen limitation defining thermal tolerance in the European cuttlefish (Sepia officinalis). Mantle muscle organ metabolic status and pHi were monitored using in vivo 31P NMR spectroscopy, while mantle muscle performance was determined by recording mantle cavity pressure oscillations during ventilation and spontaneous exercise. Under control conditions (15 degrees C), changes in muscle phospho-L-arginine (PLA) and inorganic phosphate (Pi) levels could be linearly related to frequently occurring, high-pressure mantle contractions with pressure amplitudes (MMPA) of >0.2 kPa. Accordingly, mainly MMPA of >2 kPa affected muscle PLA reserves, indicating that contractions with MMPA of <2 kPa only involve the thin layers of aerobic circular mantle musculature. On average, no more than 20% of muscle PLA was depleted during spontaneous exercise under control conditions. Subjecting animals to acute thermal change at an average rate of 1 deg. h-1 led to significant Pi accumulation (equivalent to PLA breakdown) and decrements in the free energy of ATP hydrolysis (dG/dzeta) at both ends of the temperature window, starting at mean critical temperatures (Tc) of 7.0 and 26.8 degrees C, respectively. Frequent groups of high-pressure mantle contractions could not (in the warm) or only partially (in the cold) be related to net PLA breakdown in mantle muscle, indicating an oxygen limitation of routine metabolism rather than exercise-related phosphagen use. We hypothesize that it is mainly the constantly working radial mantle muscles that become progressively devoid of oxygen. Estimates of very low dG/dzeta values (-44 kJ mol-1) in this compartment, along with correlated stagnating ventilation pressures in the warm, support this hypothesis. In conclusion, we found evidence for an oxygen limitation of thermal tolerance in the cuttlefish Sepia officinalis, as indicated by a progressive transition of routine mantle metabolism to an anaerobic mode of energy production.  (+info)

Symmetrical crypsis and asymmetrical signalling in the cuttlefish Sepia officinalis. (3/40)

The salience of bilateral symmetry to humans has led to the suggestion that camouflage may be enhanced in asymmetrical patterns. However, the importance of bilateral symmetry in visual signals (and overall morphology) may constrain the evolution of asymmetrical camouflage, resulting in the bilaterally symmetrical cryptic patterns that we see throughout the animal kingdom. This study investigates the cuttlefish (Sepia officinalis), which can control the degree of symmetry in its coloration. Ten juvenile S. officinalis were filmed in two behavioural contexts (cryptic and threatened) to test the prediction that cryptic patterns will be expressed more asymmetrically than an anti-predator signal known as the 'deimatic display'. Cryptic body patterns, particularly those with a disruptive function, were found to exhibit a high degree of bilateral symmetry. By contrast, the components of the deimatic display were often expressed asymmetrically. These results are contrary to the predicted use of symmetry in defensive coloration, indicating that the role of symmetry in both crypsis and visual signalling is not as straightforward as previously suggested.  (+info)

Signaling to the enemy? Body pattern expression and its response to external cues during hunting in the cuttlefish Sepia officinalis (Cephalopoda). (4/40)

Cuttlefish can rapidly alter their appearance by using neurally controlled chromatophore organs. This ability may provide a window into their cognitive capacity. We test whether the changes in body pattern that occur during hunting depend on context. If they do, then it may be possible to use these changes to study cephalopod cognition while the animal is engaged in ecologically relevant tasks. We found consistent individual differences in the tendency of cuttlefish to hunt with the first two arms raised. We also found that cuttlefish usually darken their skin after they seize a prey item. This darkening is observed regardless of the identity of the prey (fish, crab, or shrimp), prey context (buried in sand, in a bare tank, or on top of a rock pile), or the presence of a sudden stimulus. The sudden stimulus was created by presenting an overhead model bird to the cuttlefish. The model induced components of the Deimatic Display, which is a form of antipredator behavior, suggesting that the model was perceived as a potential threat. Passing Cloud displays and the Darkening of the arms were significantly reduced after exposure to the model bird. The effect of a potential predator on body pattern expression during hunting suggests it may be possible to use these changes as a sensitive indicator of ecologically relevant learning.  (+info)

The surface oxidation potential of human neuromelanin reveals a spherical architecture with a pheomelanin core and a eumelanin surface. (5/40)

Neuromelanin (NM) isolated from the substantia nigra region of the human brain was studied by scanning probe and photoelectron emission microscopies. Atomic force microscopy reveals that NM granules are comprised of spherical structures with a diameter of approximately 30 nm, similar to that observed for Sepia cuttlefish, bovine eye, and human eye and hair melanosomes. Photoelectron microscopy images were collected at specific wavelengths of UV light between 248 and 413 nm, using the spontaneous-emission output from the Duke OK-4 free electron laser. Analysis of the data establishes a threshold photoionization potential for NM of 4.5 +/- 0.2 eV, which corresponds to an oxidation potential of -0.1 +/- 0.2 V vs. the normal hydrogen electrode (NHE). The oxidation potential of NM is within experimental error of the oxidation potential measured for human eumelanosomes (-0.2 +/- 0.2 V vs. NHE), despite the presence of a significant fraction of the red pigment, pheomelanin, which is characterized by a higher oxidation potential (+0.5 +/- 0.2 V vs. NHE). Published kinetic studies on the early chemical steps of melanogenesis show that in the case of pigments containing a mixture of pheomelanin and eumelanin, of which NM is an example, pheomelanin formation occurs first with eumelanin formation predominantly occurring only after cysteine levels are depleted. Such a kinetic model would predict a structural motif with pheomelanin at the core and eumelanin at the surface, which is consistent with the measured surface oxidation potential of the approximately 30-nm constituents of NM granules.  (+info)

Photoprotection of human retinal pigment epithelium cells against blue light-induced apoptosis by melanin free radicals from Sepia officinalis. (6/40)

Cultured retinal pigment epithelium (RPE) cells can phagocytize large foreign particles. Heterogeneous melanin aggregates from Sepia officinalis, a species of cuttlefish, were fed to cultured human RPE cells to produce cells laden with Sepia melanin. Blue light-induced apoptosis (BLIA) assays were performed by flow cytometry on parallel cultures consisting of RPE cells isolated from independent eyes and evenly divided into two cultures, one fed Sepia melanin and one containing only native melanin. After culturing and growth of the cells under blue light illumination for 7 days, the apoptosis percentage of all cultures indicated that Sepia feeding significantly reduced BLIA. To account for Sepia photoprotection, continuous-wave EPR and time-resolved EPR experiments were performed with parallel RPE cultures by using UV (355 nm) and green (532 nm) laser irradiation. Continuous-wave EPR spectra prove that the concentrations of intrinsic and extrinsic melanin free radicals in the Sepia-RPE culture are large compared with those concentrations in the RPE culture. Time-resolved EPR spectra indicate that both UV and green light produced extrinsic melanin radicals as radical pairs from the triplet manifold with a linear dependence on the number of photons per second. These experiments conclusively demonstrate that decreased RPE susceptibility to BLIA correlates with increased intracellular melanin free radical concentrations and that nonnative melanin can supplement native melanin photoprotection of RPE cells.  (+info)

Cuttlefish responses to visual orientation of substrates, water flow and a model of motion camouflage. (7/40)

Low-level mechanisms in vertebrate vision are sensitive to line orientation. Here we investigate orientation sensitivity in the cuttlefish Sepia pharaonis, by allowing animals to settle on stripe patterns. When camouflaging themselves cuttlefish are known to be sensitive to image parameters such as contrast and spatial scale, but we find no effect of background orientation on the patterns displayed. It is nonetheless clear that the animals see orientation, because they prefer to rest with the body-axis perpendicular to the stripes. We consider three possible mechanisms to account for this behaviour. Firstly, that the body patterns are themselves oriented, and that the cuttlefish align themselves to aid static camouflage. This is unlikely, as the patterns displayed have no dominant orientation at any spatial scale. A second possibility is that motion camouflage favours alignment of the body orthogonal to background stripes, and we suggest how this alignment can minimise motion signals produced by occlusion. Thirdly we show that cuttlefish prefer to rest with their body-axis parallel to the water flow, and it is possible that they use visual patterns such as sand ripples to determine water flow.  (+info)

Visual ecology: hiding in the dark. (8/40)

The ability of many animals to camouflage themselves against a background is a well-known daytime phenomenon. Now it has even been found to occur at night, highlighting the reality of nocturnal visual predation.  (+info)