Contribution of photoreceptor subtypes to spectral wavelength preference in Drosophila

Satoko Yamaguchi, Claude Desplan, Martin Heisenberg

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The visual systems of most species contain photoreceptors with distinct spectral sensitivities that allow animals to distinguish lights by their spectral composition. In Drosophila, photoreceptors R1-R6 have thesame spectral sensitivity throughout theeye andare responsible for motion detection. In contrast, photoreceptors R7 and R8 exhibit heterogeneity and are important for color vision. We investigated how photoreceptor types contribute to the attractiveness of light by blocking the function of certain subsets and by measuring differential phototaxis between spectrally different lights. In a "UV vs. blue" choice, flies with only R1-R6, as well as flies with only R7/R8 photoreceptors, preferred blue, suggesting a nonadditive interaction between the two major subsystems. Flies defective for UV-sensitive R7 function preferred blue, whereas flies defective for either type of R8(blue- or green-sensitive) preferred UV. In a "blue vs. green" choice, flies defective for R8 (blue) preferred green, whereas those defective for R8 (green) preferred blue. Involvement of all photoreceptors [R1-R6, R7, R8 (blue), R8 (green)] distinguishes phototaxis from motion detection that is mediated exclusively by R1-R6.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)5634-5639
Number of pages6
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Issue number12
StatePublished - Mar 23 2010


  • Attractiveness function
  • Color vision
  • Differential phototaxis
  • R7/R8 sytem

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General


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