First Advisor

Leonard Simpson

Date of Publication


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (M.S.) in Biology






Purple shore crab



Physical Description

1 online resource (45 p.)


A structural analysis of the compound eye of Hemigrapsus nudus expands the basis of functional analysis of decapod Crustacean eyes. Contradictory evidence for disintegration of rhabdomeric microvilli in the absence of light prompted observation of H. nudus eyes after 146 days in darkness.

Eyes were fixed with formalin and glutaraldehyde and post fixed with osmium tetroxide for electron and light microscopy. Light- dark-adapted eyes were also observed with hot water fixation and paraffin embedment.

The eye of H. nudus is typical of decapod Crustacean compound eyes. Corneagenous cells underlie the transparent cuticle cone cells secrete the composite crystalline cone which contacts the rhabdom proximally.

The single fused rhabdom is composed of layers of microvilli from two groups of retinular cells. The layers are oriented at right angles to each other, and perpendicular to the optic axis of the ommatidium. A presumptive four-lobed eighth retinular cell makes up the distal end of the rhabdom.

Distal, proximal and reflecting retinal pigments are located in the distal pigment cells, retinular cells and tapetal cells, respectively. Distal and proximal pigments surround the rhabdom during light-adaptation, and withdraw during dark-adaptation. Reflecting pigment is found above the basement membrane in light-adapted eyes and below it in dark-adapted eyes. The crystalline cone may change length during light- and dark-adaptation. Prolonged darkness does not cause disintegration of the rhabdomeric microvilli.

H. nudus lives in conditions of dim illumination. The fused, layered rhabdom is an efficient mechanism of light absorption. Internal reflection within the rhabdom is enhanced by the palisade and further increases light absorption.

Functional units exist within the ommatidium. Mutually perpendicular rhabdomeric layers suggest intraretinal polarized light perception. Eighth retinular cells may respond individually to light focused on the distal rhabdom by the dioptric apparatus in mosaic image formation.


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