Angular and spectral sensitivity of fly photoreceptors. III. Dependence on the pupil mechanism in the blowfly Calliphora

J Comp Physiol A Neuroethol Sens Neural Behav Physiol. 2004 Feb;190(2):115-29. doi: 10.1007/s00359-003-0477-0. Epub 2004 Jan 9.


A wave optics model for the facet lens-rhabdomere system of fly eyes is used to analyze the dependence of the angular and spectral sensitivity of R1-6 photoreceptors on the pupil mechanism. This assembly of light-absorbing pigment granules in the soma interacts with the waveguide modes propagating in the rhabdomere. A fly rhabdomere carries two modes in the middle wavelength range and four modes at short wavelengths, depending on the rhabdomere diameter and the angle of the incident light flux. The extension of the mode to outside the rhabdomere strongly depends on wavelength, and this dependence plays a determinant role in the light control function of the pupil. The absorbance spectrum of the pigment in the pupil granules is severely depressed at short wavelengths by waveguide effects, resulting in a distinct blue peak. Accordingly, pupil closure suppresses the photoreceptor's spectral sensitivity much more in the blue-green than in the UV. The pupil only narrows the angular sensitivity at short wavelengths. The geometrical size of the rhabdomere governs the angular sensitivity of fly photoreceptors in the dark-adapted state, but diffraction takes over in the fully light-adapted state.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Diptera / physiology*
  • Light
  • Photic Stimulation / methods*
  • Photoreceptor Cells, Invertebrate / physiology*
  • Pupil / physiology