Strange eyes, stranger brains: exceptional diversity of optic lobe organization in midwater crustaceans

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Citation of Original Publication

Lin Chan, Hoving Henk-Jan T., Cronin Thomas W. and Osborn Karen J. 2021Strange eyes, stranger brains: exceptional diversity of optic lobe organization in midwater crustaceansProc. R. Soc. B.2882021021620210216


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This work was written as part of one of the author's official duties as an Employee of the United States Government and is therefore a work of the United States Government. In accordance with 17 U.S.C. 105, no copyright protection is available for such works under U.S. Law.



Nervous systems across Animalia not only share a common blueprint at the biophysical and molecular level, but even between diverse groups of animals the structure and neuronal organization of several brain regions are strikingly conserved. Despite variation in the morphology and complexity of eyes across malacostracan crustaceans, many studies have shown that the organization of malacostracan optic lobes is highly conserved. Here, we report results of divergent evolution to this ‘neural ground pattern’ discovered in hyperiid amphipods, a relatively small group of holopelagic malacostracan crustaceans that possess an unusually wide diversity of compound eyes. We show that the structure and organization of hyperiid optic lobes has not only diverged from the malacostracan ground pattern, but is also highly variable between closely related genera. Our findings demonstrate a variety of trade-offs between sensory systems of hyperiids and even within the visual system alone, thus providing evidence that selection has modified individual components of the central nervous system to generate distinct combinations of visual centres in the hyperiid optic lobes. Our results provide new insights into the patterns of brain evolution among animals that live under extreme conditions.