Laurie Mitchell


Laurie investigates the role of different cone photoreceptors in anemonefish vision. Diversity in reef fish vision is primarily produced by variation in the opsin protein component of the visual pigments contained within cone photoreceptors. Laurie’s project aims to examine how differences in cone-opsin expression in the retina directly manifests into the visual capabilities of reef fishes. To meet this end, he is developing a CRISPR/Cas9 gene-editing protocol to establish opsin knockout-lines of anemonefish (Amphiprion ocellaris). Colour discrimination can then be assessed using an innovative behavioural test developed by our lab.

The fascinating biology and social behaviour of anemonefishes make them an ideal group to also investigate how their visual capabilities and skin patterns are used for communication on the reef.

Supervisors: Dr. Karen Cheney, Prof. Justin Marshall, Dr. Fabio Cortesi, Prof. Robbie Wilson.

Academic history

  • MSc in Marine Science at the University of Auckland (2015) – Thesis entitled: “Breaking chromatic and achromatic camouflage by the Picasso triggerfish, Rhinecanthus aculeatus”.
  • BSc in Biological Sciences at the University of Auckland (2011-2013).


Mitchell, L., Cheney, K. L., Cortesi, F., Marshall, N. J., Vorobyev, M. (2017). Triggerfish uses chromaticity and lightness for object segregation. R. Soc. Open Sci. 4: 171440.

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