from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • n. A pigment-containing or pigment-producing cell, especially in certain lizards, that by expansion or contraction can change the color of the skin. Also called pigment cell.
  • n. A specialized pigment-bearing organelle in certain photosynthetic bacteria and cyanobacteria.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. A pigment-bearing cell or structure found in certain fish, reptiles, cephalopods, and other animals.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. A contractile cell or vesicle containing liquid pigment and capable of changing its form or size, thus causing changes of color in the translucent skin of such animals as possess them. They are highly developed and numerous in the cephalopods.
  • n. One of the granules of protoplasm, which in mass give color to the part of the plant containing them.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • n. One of the pigment-cells in animals.
  • n. In Actinozoa, one of the brightly colored beadlike bodies in the oral disk of some species, as Actinia mesembryanthemum.
  • n. In botany, a name that has been given to the granules which occur in the protoplasm of plants, including the colorless leucoplastids, the green chlorophyl granules or chloroplastids, and the chromoplastids.
  • n. One of the colored masses of protoplasm found in Protozoa.


from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

chromato- (“color”) + -phore (“bearer”)


  • Besides the pigment-cells just described, Heincke discovered another kind of chromatophore, which was filled with iridescent crystals.

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  • "chromatophore" or pigment bearing cells, called erythrophores, from Siamese fighting fish, whose response to specific toxic chemicals have been studied in detail by Trempy's collaborator, OSU biochemist Phil McFadden.

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  • He blinks, barely noticing her black bob of hair, chromatophore-tinted shadows artfully tuned around her eyes.

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  • The Sanger sequence data also showed that both A and G alleles were present at this position, as revealed by double chromatophore peaks (8× coverage from four independent DNA extracts).

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  • In addition, the Duke researchers are conducting behavioral experiments to investigate counter-illumination (a form of bioluminescent camouflage) and chromatophore use in cephalopods by placing them in tanks with walls of variable backgrounds and then photographing the body pattern responses.

    Scientific American


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