It’s been a few months since I got the all white isopods. So I have done some research on this species and observed them very closely. The color mutation is more or less known as Porcellio scaber “White Out”.
In the first article I described how Thomas Hunt Morgan experimented with fruit flies and white eyes. He discovered a gene which was linked to the colour of the eyes and the sex of the fruit flies. My concern was, because of this discovery, that this mutation only appears in the male sex.
If you haven’t read the article yet, you can catch up on it here:
So I wanted to take the next opportunity to examine the genders in this mutation and see if both sexes are present. And indeed I could discover a breeding pouch (Marsupium) in an isopod. So I could disprove in the first step that the eye color was coupled with the sex.
Quickly a beautiful breeding group developed from the 5 preserved animals. Thereby just 2 grey animals came out. The mutation was therefore quite colour stable and we had to select only very rarely.
The behaviour of the Porcellio scaber “White Out” did not differ from the other woodlouse species. The skin is often eaten completely after moulting and serves as a source of calcium.
Now we come to the question of what color the blood of the isopods is and whether the white eyes really need a pigment or whether they are just transparent. Vertebrates have red blood. The red colour comes from the red blood cells that transport oxygen. That’s why we humans have red eyes in photos from time to time. This occurs when lightning strikes our eye at a certain angle. As a result, our blood vessels in the eye become visible and appear red.
Arthropods and molluscs, to which our woodlice also belong, have developed an alternative to our blood. They are called haemocyanin (from gr. haem, ‘blood’ and kyanos, ‘sky blue’). The name already tells us quite a lot. Hemocyanin is colorless. However, when oxygen is transported, it has a sky-blue coloration.
So it is certain that our Porcellio scaber “White Out” has white pigmented eyes.
During my research I came across a new Porcellio scaber mutation. It is called Porcellio scaber “Lucy”. The appearance is white, like our Porcellio scaber “White Out”, but this mutation has black eyes. Now the question arises whether the white eye color can be transferred to other Porcellio scaber color variants, or whether it is genetically possible to transfer the black eye color to the Porcellio scaber “White Out”. Therefore I will continue the project and crossbreed different color variants with each other.
You will find out in the next article how I will proceed.