Zebrafish Retinal Ganglion Cells Asymmetrically Encode Spectral and Temporal Information across Visual Space

Mingyi Zhou, John Bear, Paul A. Roberts, Filip K. Janiak, Julie Semmelhack, Takeshi Yoshimatsu, Tom Baden

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

27 Scopus citations


In vertebrate vision, the tetrachromatic larval zebrafish permits non-invasive monitoring and manipulating of neural activity across the nervous system in vivo during ongoing behavior. However, despite a perhaps unparalleled understanding of links between zebrafish brain circuits and visual behaviors, comparatively little is known about what their eyes send to the brain via retinal ganglion cells (RGCs). Major gaps in knowledge include any information on spectral coding and information on potentially critical variations in RGC properties across the retinal surface corresponding with asymmetries in the statistics of natural visual space and behavioral demands. Here, we use in vivo two-photon imaging during hyperspectral visual stimulation as well as photolabeling of RGCs to provide a functional and anatomical census of RGCs in larval zebrafish. We find that RGCs’ functional and structural properties differ across the eye and include a notable population of UV-responsive On-sustained RGCs that are only found in the acute zone, likely to support visual prey capture of UV-bright zooplankton. Next, approximately half of RGCs display diverse forms of color opponency, including many that are driven by a pervasive and slow blue-Off system—far in excess of what would be required to satisfy traditional models of color vision. In addition, most information on spectral contrast was intermixed with temporal information. Taken together, our results suggest that zebrafish RGCs send a diverse and highly regionalized time-color code to the brain.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2927-2942.e7
JournalCurrent Biology
Issue number15
StatePublished - Aug 3 2020


  • 2P imaging
  • UV-vision
  • color vision
  • larval zebrafish
  • prey capture
  • retina
  • retinal ganglion cells


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