Skip to main content Accessibility help

Morphology of the Eye of the Hydrothermal Vent Shrimp, Alvinocaris Markensis

  • Darrison N. Wharton (a1), Robert N. Jinks (a1) (a2), Erik D. Herzog (a1) (a2), Barbara-Anne Battelle (a3), Leonard Kass (a4), George H. Renninger (a5) and Steven C. Chamberlain (a1) (a2)...

The bresiliid shrimp Alvinocaris markensis is a predator that inhabits the base of sulphide mounds built by the black smoker chimneys of active hydrothermal vents at the Snake Pit site on the Mid-Atlantic Ridge. Casual examination of animals collected with theDSV ‘Alvin’ suggests that, like other biesiliid shrimp from hydrothermal vents, the eyes of this species are adapted for vision in very dim light. However, examination of the structure and ultrastructure of eyes of animals collected and immediately fixed shows that the expected massive array of photoreceptors is partially or completely missing. The eye is enlarged, its dioptric apparatus has disappeared, its screening pigment is essentially gone, and its reflecting pigment cells have formed an enlarged mass of white diffusing cells behind the expected layer of photoreceptors. In half of the animals examined, there were no recognizable photoreceptors in the retina, and in the remaining animals there were only scattered photoreceptors with poorly organized microvillar arrays of photosensitive membrane. We conclude that this species is blind despite some retinal adaptations for vision in very dim light. Apparently, the ambient light of this animal's environment is below the quit point (the minimum level that can be exploited) so that the retina has begun to degenerate by losing its photoreceptors.

Hide All
Behrens, M. & Krebs, W., 1976. The effect of light-dark adaptation on the ultrastructure of Limulus lateral eye retinular cells. Journal of Comparative Physiology, 107, 7796.
Blest, A.D. & Day, W.A., 1978. The rhabdomere organization of some nocturnal pisaurid spiders in light and darkness. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B, 283, 123.
Chamberlain, S.C. et al., 1994a. Retinal structure in hydrothermal vent shrimp from the Mid-Atlantic Ridge. Society for Neuroscience Abstracts, 20, 132.
Chamberlain, S.C. et al., 1994b. Vision in hydrothermal vent shrimp: unusual structures for seeing in an unusual environment. Annals of Biomedical Engineering, 22, supplement 1, 56.
Corliss, J.B. et al., 1979. Submarine thermal springs on the Galápagos Rift. Science, New York, 203, 10731083.
Doughtie, D.G. & Rao, K.R., 1984. Ultrastructure of the eye of the grass shrimp, Palaemonetes pugio. General morphology, and light and dark adaptation at noon. Cell and Tissue Research, 238, 271288.
Elofsson, R. & Hallberg, E., 1977. Compound eyes of some deep-sea and fjord mysid crustaceans. Acta Zoologica, 58, 169177.
Grassle, J.F., 1985. Hydrothermal vent animals: distribution and biology. Science, New York, 229, 713717.
Itaya, S.K., 1976. Rhabdom changes in the shrimp, Palaemonetes. Cell and Tissue Research, 166, 265273.
Kuenzler, R.O. et al., 1997. Retinal anatomy of new bresiliid shrimp from the Lucky Strike and Broken Spur hydrothermal vent fields on the Mid-Atlantic Ridge. Journal of the Marine Biological Association of the United Kingdom, 77, 707726.
Lakin, R.C., Jinks, R.N., Battelle, B-A., Herzog, E.D., Kass, L., Renninger, G.H. & Chamberlain, S.C., 1997. Retinal anatomy of the bresiliid shrimp Chorocaris chacei. Journal of Comparative Neurology, in press.
Loew, E.R., 1976. Light and photoreceptor degeneration in the Norway Lobster, Nephrops norvegicus (L.). Proceedings of the Royal Society B, 193, 3144.
Lythgoe, J.N., 1979. The ecology of vision. Oxford: Clarendon Press.
Martin, J.W. & Chritiansen, J.C., 1995. A new species of the shrimp genus Chorocaris Martin & Hessler, 1990 (Crustacea: Decapoda: Bresiliidae) from hydrothermal vent fields along the Mid-Atlantic Ridge. Proceedings of the Biological Society of Washington, 108, 220227.
Martin, J.W. & Hessler, R.R., 1990. Chorocaris vandoverae, a new genus and species of hydrothermal vent shrimp (Crustacea, Decapoda, Bresiliidae) from the western Pacific. Contributions in Science, Los Angeles County Museum of Natural History, 417, 111.
Meyer-Rochow, V.B., 1981. The eye of Orchomene sp. cf. O. rossi, an amphipod living under the Ross Ice Shelf (Antarctica). Proceedings of the Royal Society B, 212, 93111.
Meyer-Rochow, V.B. & Tiang, K.M., 1979. The effects of light and temperature on the structural organization of the eye of the Antarctic amphipod Orchomene plebs (Crustacea). Proceedings of the Royal Society B, 206, 353368.
Nilsson, H.L., 1982. Rhabdom breakdown in the eye of Cirolana borealis (Crustacea) caused by exposure to daylight. Cell and Tissue Research, 227, 633639.
Nilsson, H.L. & Lindström, M., 1983. Retinal damage and sensitivity loss of a light-sensitive crustacean compound eye (Cirolana borealis). Journal of Experimental Biology, 107, 277292.
Nuckley, D.J., Jinks, R.N., Battelle, B-A., Herzog, E.D., Kass, L., Renninger, G.H. & Chamberlain, S.C., 1996. Retinal anatomy of a new species of bresiliid shrimp from a hydrothermal vent field on the Mid-Atlantic Ridge. Biological Bulletin. Marine Biological Laboratory, Woods Hole, 190, 98110.
O'neill, P.J., Jinks, R.N., Herzog, E.D., Battelle, B-A., Kass, L., Renninger, G.H. & Chamberlain, S.C., 1995. The morphology of the dorsal eye of the hydrothermal vent shrimp, Rimicaris exoculata. Visual Neuroscience, 12, 861875.
O'neill, P.J., Jinks, R.N., Herzog, E.D. & Chamberlain, S.C., 1994. Is photoreceptor membrane shedding ubiquitous? Negative evidence from an ultra-high sensitivity photoreceptor. Investigative Ophthalmology and Visual Science, 35, supplement, 1520.
Pelli, D.G. & Chamberlain, S.C., 1989. The visibility of 350°C black-body radiation by the shrimp Rimicaris exoculata and man. Nature, London, 337, 460461.
Renninger, G.H., Kass, L., Gleeson, R.A., Van Dover, C.L., Battelle, B-A., Jinks, R.N., Herzog, E.D. & Chamberlain, S.C., 1995. Sulfide as a chemical stimulus for deep-sea hydrothermal vent shrimp. Biological Bulletin. Marine Biological Laboratory, Woods Hole, 189, 6976.
Rona, P.A., 1985. Black smokers and massive sulfides at the TAG hydrothermal field, Mid-Atlantic Ridge 26°N. Eos, 66, 936.
Rona, P.A., 1992. Deep-sea geysers of the Atlantic. National Geographic, 182, 104109.
Rona, P.A., Klinkhammer, G., Nelsen, T.A., Trefry, J.H. & Elderfield, H., 1986. Black smokers, massive sulphides and vent biota at the Mid-Atlantic Ridge. Nature, London, 321, 3337.
Segonzac, M., De Saint, Laurent M. & Casanova, B., 1994. L'énigme du comportement trophique des crevettes Alvinocarididae des sites hydrothermaux de la dorsale médio-atlantique. Cahiers de Biologie Marine, 34, 535571.
Shelton, P.M.J., Gaten, E. & Chapman, C.J., 1985. Light and retinal damage in Nephrops norvegicus (L.) (Crustacea). Proceedings of the Royal Society B, 226, 217236.
Tunnicliffe, V., 1992. Hydrothermal-vent communities of the deep sea. American Scientist, 80, 336349.
Tuurala, O. & Lehtinen, A., 1971. Über die Einwirkung von Licht und Dunkel auf die Feinstruktur der Lichtsinneszellen der Assel Oniscus asellus L. II. Microvilli und multivesikuläre Körper nach starker Belichtung. Annales Academiae Scientiarum Fennicae A, IV Biologica, 177, 18.
Van Dover, C.L., 1995. Ecology of Mid-Atlantic Ridge hydrothermal vents. In Hydrothermal vents and processes (ed. L.M., Parson et al.), pp. 257289. London: The Geological Society. [Geological Society Special Publication no. 87.]
Van Dover, C.L. et al., 1994. Light At Deep Sea Hydrothermal Vents. Eos, 75, 4445.
Van Dover, C.L., Szuts, E.Z., Chamberlain, S.C. & Cann, J.R., 1989. A novel eye in ‘eyeless’ shrimp from hydrothermal vents of the Mid-Atlantic Ridge. Nature, London, 337, 458460.
Williams, A.B., 1988. New marine decapod crustaceans from waters influenced by hydrothermal discharge, brine, and hydrocarbon seepage. Fishery Bulletin. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Washington, DC, 86, 263287.
Williams, A.B. & Chace, F.A. Jr, 1982. A new caridean shrimp of the family Bresiliidae from the thermal vents of the Galapagos Rift. Journal of Crustacean Biology, 2, 136147.
Williams, A.B. & Rona, P. A., 1986. Two new caridean shrimps (Bresiliidae) from a hydrothermal field on the Mid-Atlantic Ridge. Journal of Crustacean Biology, 6, 446462.
Williams, D.S., 1980. Ca2*-induced structural changes in photoreceptor microvilli of Diptera. Cell and Tissue Research, 206, 225232.
Recommend this journal

Email your librarian or administrator to recommend adding this journal to your organisation's collection.

Journal of the Marine Biological Association of the United Kingdom
  • ISSN: 0025-3154
  • EISSN: 1469-7769
  • URL: /core/journals/journal-of-the-marine-biological-association-of-the-united-kingdom
Please enter your name
Please enter a valid email address
Who would you like to send this to? *


Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 0
Total number of PDF views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between <date>. This data will be updated every 24 hours.

Usage data cannot currently be displayed