Characterization of photoreceptor cell types in the little brown bat Myotis lucifugus (Vespertilionidae). Academic Article uri icon


  • We report the expression of three visual opsins in the retina of the little brown bat (Myotis lucifugus, Vespertilionidae). Gene sequences for a rod-specific opsin and two cone-specific opsins were cloned from cDNA derived from bat eyes. Comparative sequence analyses indicate that the two cone opsins correspond to an ultraviolet short-wavelength opsin (SWS1) and a long-wavelength opsin (LWS). Immunocytochemistry using antisera to visual opsins revealed that the little brown bat retina contains two types of cone photoreceptors within a rod-dominated background. However, unlike other mammalian photoreceptors, M. lucifugus cones and rods are morphologically indistinguishable by light microscopy. Both photoreceptor types have a thin, elongated outer segment. Using microspectrophotometry we classified the absorption spectrum for the ubiquitous rods. Similar to other mammals, bat rhodopsin has an absorption peak near 500 nm. Although we were unable to confirm a spectral range, cellular and molecular analyses indicate that M. lucifugus expresses two types of cone visual pigments located within the photoreceptor layer. This study provides important insights into the visual capacity of a nocturnal microchiropteran species.

publication date

  • December 2009