Circular polarization of transmitted light by Sapphirinidae copepods Academic Article uri icon


  • Circularly polarized light, rare in the animal kingdom, has thus far been documented in only a handful of animals. Using a rotating circular polarization (CP) analyzer we detected CP in linearly polarized light transmitted through epipelagic free living Sapphirina metallina copepods. Both left and right handedness of CP was detected, generated from specific organs of the animal's body, especially on the dorsal cephalosome and prosome. Such CP transmittance may be generated by phase retardance either in the muscle fibers or in the multilayer membrane structure found underneath the cuticle. Although the role, if any, played by circularly polarized light in Sapphirinidae has yet to be clarified, in other animals it was suggested to take part in mate choice, species recognition, and other forms of communication. Planktonic Sapphirinidae copepods were found to circularly polarize the light passing through them. Circular polarization may be created by unique, multilayered features of the membrane structure found under their cuticle or by organized muscle fibers.

publication date

  • January 1, 2014