Insect pupil mechanisms IV. Spectral characteristics and light intensity dependence in the blowfly, Calliphora erythrocephala

J.G.H. Roebroek, D.G. Stavenga

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The spectral characteristics of the pupil mechanism in blowfly photoreceptors and their dependence on light intensity have been investigated together with the intensity dependence of the receptor potential. The threshold for the pupil response as measured by reflectance is found at an intensity at which the peak of the receptor potential is about half maximal and the plateau potential starts to saturate. The reflectance saturates at about 3 log-units above threshold. The reflectance spectrum peaks near 620 nm, and its shape is independent of adaptation intensity. The absorbance change, measured by transmission, is extreme in the blue, at about 470 nm. The shape of the absorbance spectrum is slightly intensity dependent, presumably due to optical waveguide effects. The dynamic ranges of the light-induced reflectance and absorbance changes do not coincide. The reflectance change shows saturation at least 1 to 1.5 log units before the absorbance change saturates.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)537-543
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Comparative Physiology A: Neuroethology, Sensory, Neural, and Behavioral Physiology
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - 1990


  • Receptor potential
  • Absorbance
  • Spectral reflectance
  • Pupil

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