Fine structural correlates of sensitivity in the eyes of the ctenid spider, Cupiennius salei Keys

Tissue Cell. 1997 Aug;29(4):421-30. doi: 10.1016/s0040-8166(97)80028-6.


We studied fine structural correlates of sensitivity in the principal and secondary eyes of the nocturnal hunting spider Cupiennius salei. In night-adapted eyes the four rhabdomeres of the principal eye photoreceptors are 58 microm long and occupy together 234 microm(2) in cross-section (average), whereas the two rhabdomeres of the secondary eye photoreceptors are about 49 microm long and measure 135-183 microm(2) in cross-section (average). The rhabdoms (photosensitive structures) consist of tightly packed microvilli (diameter 0.1 microm, maximum length 3.5 microm) and occupy up to 63% of the cross-sectional area of the retina. When calculating the amount of light the eyes of Cupiennius are able to capture according to their morphological characteristics, the values for sensitivity S(see Land, 1981, 1985) are between 78 and 109 microm(2). Cupiennius is more sensitive than any other hunting spider examined except Dinopis whose posterior median eyes are the most sensitive ones of all terrestrial arthropod eyes studied. In day-adapted eyes the rhabdomeral microvilli are almost completely degraded. The remaining microvillar surface amounts to only about one-tenth compared with the night-adapted state. Efferent synaptoid terminals have been found to contact the photoreceptors in all eyes of C. salei. The present fine structural data are compared to previous electrophysiological research and underline the significance of vision in Cupiennius.