Fluorescence characterisation and visual ecology of pseudocheilinid wrasses

Tobias Gerlach*, Jennifer Theobald, Nathan S. Hart, Shaun P. Collin, Nico K. Michiels

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Citations (Scopus)
3 Downloads (Pure)


Background: Wrasses represent the second largest family of marine fishes and display a high diversity of complex colours linked to ecological functions. Recently, red autofluorescent body colouration has been reported in some of these fishes. However, little is known about the distribution of such fluorescent body patterns in wrasses or the animals' ability to perceive such colours. 

Results: Against this background, we (1) investigated long-wavelength emission autofluorescence in thirteen species of pseudocheilinid wrasses and (2) characterised the spectral absorbance of visual pigments in one of the examined species, the fairy wrasse Cirrhilabrus solorensis. Spectrophotometric analysis revealed that fluorescent body colouration is widespread and diverse within this clade, with considerable variation in both fluorescent pattern and maximum emission wavelength between species. Characterisation of visual pigments in retinal photoreceptors showed a single class of rod and three spectrally distinct cone photoreceptors, suggesting possible trichromacy. 

Conclusion: Combining the emission characteristics of fluorescence body colouration and the spectral sensitivity data of retinal cells suggests that the visual system of C. solorensis is sensitive to pseudocheilinid fluorescence.

Original languageEnglish
Article number13
Pages (from-to)1-8
Number of pages8
JournalFrontiers in Zoology
Publication statusPublished - 15 Mar 2016
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Copyright the Author(s) 2016. Version archived for private and non-commercial use with the permission of the author/s and according to publisher conditions. For further rights please contact the publisher.


  • Colour vision
  • Labridae
  • Microspectrophotometry
  • Photoluminescence
  • Red fluorescence


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