Sexual Dichromatism of the Damselfly Calopteryx japonica Caused by a Melanin-Chitin Multilayer in the Male Wing Veins

Doekele G. Stavenga*, Hein L. Leertouwer, Takahiko Hariyama, Hans A. De Raedt, Bodo D. Wilts

*Corresponding author for this work

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    Abstract

    Mature male Calopteryx japonica damselflies have dark-blue wings, due to darkly coloured wing membranes and blue reflecting veins. The membranes contain a high melanin concentration and the veins have a multilayer of melanin and chitin. Female and immature C. japonica damselflies have brown wings. We have determined the refractive index of melanin by comparing the differently pigmented wing membranes and applying Jamin-Lebedeff interference microscopy. Together with the previously measured refractive index of chitin the blue, structural colour of the male wing veins could be quantitatively explained by an optical multilayer model. The obtained melanin refractive index data will be useful in optical studies on melanized tissues, especially where melanin is concentrated in layers, thus causing iridescence.

    Original languageEnglish
    Article numbere49743
    Number of pages7
    JournalPLoS ONE
    Volume7
    Issue number11
    DOIs
    Publication statusPublished - 20-Nov-2012

    Keywords

    • STRUCTURAL COLORS
    • REFRACTIVE-INDEX
    • INTERFERENCE
    • EUMELANIN
    • IRIDESCENCE
    • COLORATION
    • FEATHERS
    • SYSTEMS
    • BEETLE

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