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1. Any of several types of pigment cells, especially one found in a fish, amphibian, or reptile.
2. A multicellular organ in cephalopods that contains pigment cells.
3. A specialized pigment-bearing organelle in certain photosynthetic bacteria.
American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition. Copyright © 2016 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.


1. (Zoology) a cell in the skin of frogs, chameleons, etc, in which pigment is concentrated or dispersed, causing the animal to change colour
2. (Botany) another name for chromoplast
ˌchromatoˈphoric, chromatophorous adj
Collins English Dictionary – Complete and Unabridged, 12th Edition 2014 © HarperCollins Publishers 1991, 1994, 1998, 2000, 2003, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2011, 2014


(krəˈmæt əˌfɔr, -ˌfoʊr)

1. a cell containing pigment, esp. one that produces a temporary color, as in cuttlefishes.
2. one of the colored plastids in plant cells.
chro•mat`o•phor′ic (-ˈfɔr ɪk, -ˈfɒr-) chro•ma•toph•or•ous (ˌkroʊ məˈtɒf ər əs) adj.
Random House Kernerman Webster's College Dictionary, © 2010 K Dictionaries Ltd. Copyright 2005, 1997, 1991 by Random House, Inc. All rights reserved.
References in periodicals archive ?
Pigment cells (chromophores) are melanophores, similar to melanocytes (black), xanthophores (yellow), and iridophores (light grey).
This new model suggests that one of the pigment cell types - called iridophores - leads the process of cell organization.
Mature chromatophores are often grouped by the color of their reflectance under white light: xanthophores (yellow), erythrophores (red), iridophores (reflective and/or iridescent), leucophores (white), melanophores (black/brown), and cyanophores (blue).
Malleable skin coloration in cephalopods: selective reflectance, transmission and absorbance of light by chromatophores and iridophores. Cell Tissue Res.
The dermis also contains leucophores (cells which scatter light to produce white colouration [Norman 2000]), and, in the deeper layers, iridophores (cells that reflect light to produce an iridescent hue) (Ruppert and Barnes 1994; Norman 2000).
For instance, the researchers say that the "run-and-chase" behavior of black and yellow cells accounts for stripes on zebrafish bodies as well as their fins, but she has evidence that iridescent cells called iridophores are also important for body stripes.
Color changes in teleosts are due to the aggregation/dispersion of pigment within the light-absorbing chromatophores, in particular to the motile activity of melanosomes, and to the reflecting changes in active iridophores (Beeching 1995, Fujii et al.
Complete albinism is expressed as a lack of integumentary and retinal melanin, however, true albinos can exhibit integumentary coloration due to the other types of chromatophores: xanthophores and iridophores (CLARK, 2002).
Fine silvery shiny iridophores cover most of the dorsum in loose groups, the eyeballs, and the ventrolateral parts of the body.
Its bluish-pigmented cells, iridophores, reflect light through yellowish cells (xanthophores).
plei have reported that the organization of chromatophores and iridophores is not constant, differing and specific in certain regions of the body.