Structural organization of xanthine crystals in the median ocellus of a member of the ancestral insect group Archaeognatha

Ofir Friedman, Alexander Böhm, Katya Rechav, Iddo Pinkas, Vlad Brumfeld, Günther Pass, Steve Weiner, Lia Addadi (Korresp. Autor*in)

Veröffentlichungen: Beitrag in FachzeitschriftArtikelPeer Reviewed


Biogenic purine crystals function in vision as mirrors, multilayer reflectors and light scatterers. We investigated a light sensory organ in a primarily wingless insect, the jumping bristletail Lepismachilis rozsypali (Archaeognatha), an ancestral group. The visual system of this animal comprises two compound eyes, two lateral ocelli, and a median ocellus, which is located on the front of the head, pointing downwards to the ground surface. We determined that the median ocellus contains crystals of xanthine, and we obtained insights into their function. To date, xanthine biocrystals have only been found in the Archaeognatha. We performed a structural analysis, using reflection light microscopy, cryo-FIB-SEM, microCT and cryo-SEM. The xanthine crystals cover the bottom of a bowl-shaped volume in the median ocellus, in analogy to a tapetum, and reflect photons to lightsensitive receptors that are spread in the volume without apparent order or preferential orientation. We infer that the median ocellus operates as an irregular multifocal reflector, which is not capable of forming images. A possible function of this organ is to improve photon capture, and by so doing assess distances from the ground surface when jumping by determining changes in the intensity and contrast of the incident light.
FachzeitschriftJournal of Structural Biology
PublikationsstatusVeröffentlicht - März 2022

ÖFOS 2012

  • 106054 Zoologie