Dynamic pigmentary and structural coloration within cephalopod chromatophore organs.

Academic Article


  • Chromatophore organs in cephalopod skin are known to produce ultra-fast changes in appearance for camouflage and communication. Light-scattering pigment granules within chromatocytes have been presumed to be the sole source of coloration in these complex organs. We report the discovery of structural coloration emanating in precise register with expanded pigmented chromatocytes. Concurrently, using an annotated squid chromatophore proteome together with microscopy, we identify a likely biochemical component of this reflective coloration as reflectin proteins distributed in sheath cells that envelop each chromatocyte. Additionally, within the chromatocytes, where the pigment resides in nanostructured granules, we find the lens protein Ω- crystallin interfacing tightly with pigment molecules. These findings offer fresh perspectives on the intricate biophotonic interplay between pigmentary and structural coloration elements tightly co-located within the same dynamic flexible organ - a feature that may help inspire the development of new classes of engineered materials that change color and pattern.
  • Authors

  • Williams, Thomas L
  • Senft, Stephen L
  • Yeo, Jingjie
  • Martín-Martínez, Francisco J
  • Kuzirian, Alan M
  • Martin, Camille A
  • DiBona, Christopher W
  • Chen, Chun-Teh
  • Dinneen, Sean R
  • Nguyen, Hieu T
  • Gomes, Conor M
  • Rosenthal, Joshua JC
  • MacManes, Matthew
  • Chu, Feixia
  • Buehler, Markus J
  • Hanlon, Roger T
  • Deravi, Leila F
  • Publication Date

  • March 1, 2019
  • Published In


  • Animals
  • Cephalopoda
  • Chromatophores
  • Color
  • Cytoplasmic Granules
  • Decapodiformes
  • Molecular Docking Simulation
  • Pigments, Biological
  • Proteome
  • Skin
  • Skin Pigmentation
  • Transcriptome
  • Digital Object Identifier (doi)

    Start Page

  • 1004
  • Volume

  • 10
  • Issue

  • 1