Behavioral visual responses of wild-type and hypopigmented zebrafish

Vision Res. 2002 Feb;42(3):293-9. doi: 10.1016/s0042-6989(01)00284-x.


Zebrafish possess three classes of chromatophores that include iridophores, melanophores, and xanthophores. Mutations that lack one or two classes of chromatophores have been isolated or genetically constructed. Using a behavioral assay based on visually mediated escape responses, we measured the visual response of fully and partially pigmented zebrafish. In zebrafish that lack iridophores (roy mutants), the behavioral visual responses were similar to those of wild-type animals except at low contrast stimulation. In the absence of melanophores (albino mutants) or both melanophores and iridophores (ruby mutants), the behavioral visual responses were normal under moderate illumination but reduced when tested under dim or bright conditions or under low contrast stimulation. Together, the data suggest that screening pigments in the retina play a role in the regulation of behavioral visual responses and are necessary for avoiding "scatter" under bright light conditions.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Albinism, Ocular / pathology
  • Albinism, Ocular / psychology*
  • Animals
  • Chromatophores / physiology*
  • Contrast Sensitivity / physiology
  • Dark Adaptation / physiology
  • Escape Reaction / physiology*
  • Lighting
  • Melanophores / physiology
  • Retina / pathology
  • Visual Perception / physiology*
  • Zebrafish / physiology*