Color-vision polymorphism in New World monkeys occurs because of an allelic polymorphism of the single-copy red-green middle-to-long-wavelength-sensitive (M/LWS) opsin gene on the X chromosome. Because color-vision types can readily be estimated from allelic types of the M/LWS opsin gene, this polymorphic system offers researchers an excellent opportunity to study the association between vision and behavior. As a prerequisite for such studies, genetically determined color-vision types must be concordant with phenotypes determined directly by behavioral criteria (e.g., by a color discrimination test). However, such correlations between genotypes and phenotypes have been studied only for callitrichine species. Using genetic, electrophysiological, and behavioral approaches, we evaluated the color vision of brown capuchin monkeys (Cebus apella), a representative non-callitrichine model animal for physiology and behavior. Two allelic M/LWS opsins-P545 and P530-were identified in the studied captive population. Females had one or both of the alleles, and males had either one. The retinal sensitivity in P530 dichromats was short-wave shifted relative to that in P545 dichromats, whereas that in P530/P545 trichromats was between the two groups. In a discrimination task using Ishihara pseudo-isochromatic plates, P530/P545 trichromats were successful in discriminating stimuli that P530 and P545 dichromats were unable to discriminate. In a food-search task, P530/P545 trichromats were able to locate red targets among green distracters as quickly as among white distracters, whereas both types of dichromats took longer. These results demonstrate the mutual consistency between genotypes and phenotypes of color vision, and provide a solid genetic basis on which the ecology and evolution of color vision can be investigated.
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