Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Zebrafish use sunscreen also for camouflage

Date:
January 29, 2014
Source:
University of Zurich
Summary:
For diurnal animals like zebrafish embryos, which grow up in shallow pools and are practically see-through, exposure to the sun constitutes a major problem since ultraviolet (UV) radiation damages DNA. Neurobiologists set about investigating which mechanisms zebrafish embryos use to protect themselves against the aggressive UV radiation. Interestingly, scientists have found that the UV-protection mechanism also doubles as camouflage. 

Camouflage among zebrafish larvae. The left-hand larva is exposed to bright light and has little pigmentation; the right-hand larva against a dark subsurface is more heavily pigmented and thus camouflaged.
Credit: UZH

For diurnal animals like zebrafish embryos, which grow up in shallow pools and are practically see-through, exposure to the sun constitutes a major problem since ultraviolet (UV) radiation damages DNA. Neurobiologists Stephan Neuhauss and Kaspar Mόller from the Institute of Molecular Biology at the University of Zurich set about investigating which mechanisms zebrafish embryos use to protect themselves against the aggressive UV radiation. Interestingly, the two scientists reveal in their article, recently published in the journal PLOS ONE, that the UV-protection mechanism also doubles as camouflage.

Sunscreen already from day two

For their study, the scientists examined zebrafish embryos, the skin cells of which already possess pigments known as melanosomes from the second day after fertilization -- even before their eyes have developed. "In strong solar radiation, the pigments spread along predetermined paths within the cells, after which the zebrafish embryo appears darker," explains Neuhauss. As the researchers discovered, this distribution process of dark pigments in the presence of intense light always takes place, regardless of whether the embryo is on a light or dark subsurface. Surprisingly, the embryos display a noticeable change from the third day after fertilization: They adapt to the subsurface. According to Neuhauss, this is because the embryos can see from day three and have eyes with UV-sensitive photoreceptors in the retina. From this moment on, they are able to discern whether they are on a light or dark subsurface and can adapt and thus camouflage themselves accordingly. As long as the animal is in the embryonic stage and see-through, however, the benefits of UV protection prevail.

When the skin is no longer transparent and does not require protection against aggressive radiation, the selective distribution of the pigments within the skin cells is predominantly used for camouflage purposes. And with good reason: Being able to adapt to a lighter or darker subsurface and camouflage yourself reduces the chance of being spotted and eaten. "The original UV protection turns into a camouflage mechanism -- a striking example of the secondary use of an existing capability," Neuhauss concludes.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of Zurich. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Kaspar P. Mueller, Stephan C. F. Neuhauss. Sunscreen for Fish: Co-Option of UV Light Protection for Camouflage. PLoS ONE, 2014; 9 (1): e87372 DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0087372

Cite This Page:

University of Zurich. "Zebrafish use sunscreen also for camouflage." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 29 January 2014. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/01/140129184658.htm>.
University of Zurich. (2014, January 29). Zebrafish use sunscreen also for camouflage. ScienceDaily. Retrieved September 21, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/01/140129184658.htm
University of Zurich. "Zebrafish use sunscreen also for camouflage." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/01/140129184658.htm (accessed September 21, 2014).

Share This



More Plants & Animals News

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Raw: San Diego Zoo Welcomes Cheetah Cubs

Raw: San Diego Zoo Welcomes Cheetah Cubs

AP (Sep. 20, 2014) — The San Diego Zoo has welcomed two Cheetah cubs to its Safari Park. The nearly three-week-old female cubs are being hand fed and are receiving around the clock care. (Sept. 20) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Chocolate Museum Opens in Brussels

Chocolate Museum Opens in Brussels

AFP (Sep. 19, 2014) — Considered a "national heritage" in Belgium, chocolate now has a new museum in Brussels. In a former chocolate factory, visitors to the permanent exhibition spaces, workshops and tastings can discover derivatives of the cocoa bean. Duration: 01:00 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Could Grief Affect The Immune Systems Of Senior Citizens?

Could Grief Affect The Immune Systems Of Senior Citizens?

Newsy (Sep. 19, 2014) — The study found elderly people are much more likely to become susceptible to infection than younger adults going though a similar situation. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Jury Delivers Verdict in Salmonella Trial

Jury Delivers Verdict in Salmonella Trial

AP (Sep. 19, 2014) — A federal jury has convicted three people in connection with an outbreak of salmonella poisoning five years ago that sickened hundreds of people and was linked to a number of deaths. (Sept. 19) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
 
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:  

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:  

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile iPhone Android Web
Follow Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins