Presence of rhodopsin and porphyropsin in the eyes of 164 fishes, representing marine, diadromous, coastal and freshwater species--a qualitative and comparative study

Photochem Photobiol. Jul-Aug 2008;84(4):996-1002. doi: 10.1111/j.1751-1097.2008.00344.x. Epub 2008 Apr 14.


There are two types of visual pigments in fish eyes; most marine fishes have rhodopsin, while most freshwater fishes have porphyropsin. The biochemical basis for this dichotomy is the nature of the chromophores, retinal (A1) and 3-dehydroretinal (A2), each of which is bound by an opsin. In order to study the regional distribution of these visual pigments, we performed a new survey of the visual pigment chromophores in the eyes of many species of fish. Fish eyes from 164 species were used to examine their chromophores by high-performance liquid chromatography--44 species of freshwater fish, 20 of peripheral freshwater fish (coastal species), 10 of diadromous fish and 90 of seawater fish (marine species) were studied. The eyes of freshwater fish, limb freshwater fish and diadromous fish had both A1 and A2 chromophores, whereas those of marine fish possessed only A1 chromophores. Our results are similar to those of previous studies; however, we made a new finding that fish which live in freshwater possessed A1 if living near the sea and A2 if living far from the sea if they possessed only one type of chromophore.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Fishes* / classification
  • Fresh Water
  • Retinal Pigments / analysis*
  • Rhodopsin / analysis
  • Species Specificity


  • Retinal Pigments
  • porphyropsin
  • Rhodopsin