Three-dimensional ultrastructural organization of the ommatidium of the minute parasitoid wasp Trichogramma evanescens.


Evolutionary Biology of Invertebrates, Institute of Evolution and Ecology, Eberhard Karls Universität Tübingen, Auf der Morgenstelle 28E, 72076 Tübingen, Germany; Department of Psychology and Neuroscience, Life Sciences Centre, Dalhousie University, Halifax, NS B3H 4R2, Canada. Electronic address: [Email]


Existing information on insect compound eyes is mainly limited to two-dimensional information derived from histological or ultrathin sections. These allow a basic description of eye morphology, but are limited in z-axis resolution because of the section thickness or intervals between sections, so that accurate volumetric information cannot be generated. Here we use serial-sectioning transmission electron microscopy to present a 3-D reconstruction at ultrastructural level of a complete ommatidium of a miniaturized insect compound eye. Besides the general presentation of the three dimensional arrangement of the different cell types within the ommatidium, the reconstruction allowed volumetric measurements and numerical analyses to be undertaken, revealing new insights into the number, size and distribution of cell organelles in insect ommatidia. Morphological features that can be related to miniaturization, namely the dimensions and displacement of nuclei, reduction of average pigment granule volume and loss of pigment granules in the terminals of the cone cells, the impact of metabolic activity of cell types on miniaturization, as well as maintenance of rhabdomere volume and limits to its miniaturization, are all discussed.


Apposition,Compound eye,Insects,Miniaturization,Vision,