Eye regionalization and spectral tuning of retinal pigments in insects

Trends Neurosci. 1992 Jun;15(6):213-8. doi: 10.1016/0166-2236(92)90038-a.


The spatial and spectral properties of an eye can often be directly linked to the behaviour and habitat of the animal. In a honey bee (Apis mellifera) society, the drones use the well-developed dorsal part of the eye to detect the queen against the sky during her nuptial flight. Recently it has become clear that the dorsal area of the drone's eye serves its task by cleverly combining a number of optical mechanisms, thus achieving a high spatial acuity as well as a high sensitivity precisely in the wavelength range of interest--the ultraviolet to blue range. Since the various optical specializations in the drone eye have now been recognized, they can be traced in the eyes of other species: thus, the drone eye serves as a model to give a better understanding of the relationship between structure and function of compound eyes in particular, but also of visual systems in general.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Insecta / physiology*
  • Ocular Physiological Phenomena*
  • Pigment Epithelium of Eye / physiology*