Occlusable corneas in toadfishes: light transmission, movement and ultrastruture of pigment during light- and dark-adaptation Academic Article uri icon


  • The toadfishes Tetractenos hamiltoni and Torquigener pleurogramma (Tetraodontidae) possess occlusable yellow corneas. We examine the light transmission and location of the yellow/orange pigment throughout the cornea, the temporal properties of pigment migration and the ultrastructure of the pigmented processes during light- and dark-adaptation. Each species was dark-adapted during the day and light-adapted during the night and then exposed to either sun illumination or darkness for different lengths of time (0-70 min). Movement of corneal pigment could be induced in both species regardless of time of day or night. The pigment was able to migrate in a dorsal or ventral direction and changed from minimal to maximal pigmentation within 60 min. Three types of transmission curves were found with varying degrees of transmission in the 400-500 nm waveband, indicating that the pigment distribution is not uniform across the cornea; some areas of the cornea transmit near UV light, while others absorb blue light. The gradual change of the transmission characteristics in different areas of the cornea indicates the presence of different concentrations of a single type of pigment. Ultrastructural examination of the corneas showed that the layer containing the pigment is situated within the scleral cornea either surrounding (T. pleurogramma) or abutting (T. hamiltoni) an iridescent layer. Long sheet-like processes or chromatophores extending centrally from dorsal and ventral reservoirs are filled with pigment during the light-adapted state but empty in the dark-adapted state.

publication date

  • July 1, 2003