Published online by Cambridge University Press: 02 June 2009
The compound eye of the tobacco hornworm moth Manduca sexta contains green-, blue-, and ultraviolet-sensitive photoreceptors. Electroretinogram spectral-sensitivity measurements were recorded from different regions of the retina in order to broadly map the distribution of the three receptor types. The relative contribution of the three receptors to spectral-sensitivity curves was estimated by fitting theoretical curves based on the absorption spectra of the three rhodopsins. This analysis indicated that the dorsal retina is green and ultraviolet dichromatic, with green-sensitive cells greatly predominating. The ventral retina is trichromatic with a substantial population of blue- and ultraviolet-sensitive receptors. We previously showed that flower visitation for nectar feeding is mediated mainly by blue-sensitive cells. Their localization in the ventral retina seems an appropriate adaptation of the receptor mosaic, since the moths hover above flowers as they feed.