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Numerous studies have indicated that temperature improves the visual capabilities of different ectotherms, including a variety of fish species. However, none of these studies has directly tested whether elevated temperature extends the visual detection distance - the distance from which a visual stimulus is detected. To test this hypothesis, we investigated the effect of temperature on the visual detection distance of zebrafish (Danio rerio) larvae by measuring the largest distance from a moving target that induced a neural response in the optic tectum. We applied advanced methods of functional calcium imaging such as selective plane illumination microscopy in combination with a miniature OLED screen. The screen displayed an artificial, mobile prey, appearing in the visual field of the larvae. We performed experiments in three temperature treatments (18, 23 and 28°C) on transgenic fish expressing a fluorescent probe (GCaMP5G) that changes intensity in response to altered Ca2+ concentrations in the nerves in the optic tectum. Based on the obtained data, we also measured three additional parameters of the neural response in the optic tectum, each being a proxy of sensitivity to changes in the stimulus movement. We did not confirm our hypothesis, since the visual detection distance shortened as the temperature increased. Moreover, all of the three additional parameters indicated a negative effect of the temperature on the speed of the neural response to the stimuli. However, the obtained results could be explained not only by worse visual capabilities at the elevated temperature, but also by the differences in the visual field and in turn, the retinotopic location of the visual stimulus between the temperature treatments, since the stimulus in the experiments moved horizontally rather than forward and backward from the fish's eye. © 2020. Published by The Company of Biologists Ltd.


Ewa Babkiewicz, Michał Bazała, Paulina Urban, Piotr Maszczyk, Magdalena Markowska, Z Maciej Gliwicz. The effects of temperature on the proxies of visual detection of Danio rerio larvae: observations from the optic tectum. Biology open. 2020 Jul 21;9(7)

PMID: 32694151

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