Hermissenda crassicornis is a model for studying the molecular and cellular basis for classical conditioning, based on its ability to associate light with vestibular stimulation. We used confocal microscopy to map histamine (HA), FMRF-amide, and γ-aminobutyric acid (GABA) immunoreactivity in the central nervous system (CNS), eyes, optic ganglia and statocysts of the nudibranchs. For HA immunoreactivity, we documented both consistently and variably labeled CNS structures across individuals. We also noted minor differences in GABA immunoreactivity in the CNS compared to previous work on Hermissenda. Contrary to expectations, we found no evidence for GABA inside the visual or vestibular systems. Instead, we found only FMRFamide- and HA immunoreactivity (FMRFamide: 4 optic ganglion cells, 4-5 hair cells; HA: 3 optic ganglion cells, 8 hair cells). Overall, our results can act as basis for comparisons of nervous systems across nudibranchs, and suggest further exploration of intraspecific plasticity versus evolutionary changes in gastropod nervous systems.
Migrating desert locusts, Schistocerca gregaria, are able to use the skylight polarization pattern for navigation. They detect polarized light with a specialized dorsal rim area in their compound eye. After multistage processing, polarization signals are transferred to the central complex, a midline-spanning brain area involved in locomotor control. Polarization-sensitive tangential neurons (TB-neurons) of the protocerebral bridge, a part of the central complex, give rise to a topographic arrangement of preferred polarization angles in the bridge, suggesting that the central complex acts as an internal sky compass. TB-neurons connect the protocerebral bridge with two adjacent brain areas, the posterior optic tubercles. To analyze the polarotopic organization of the central complex further, we investigated the number and morphologies of TB-neurons and the presence and colocalization of three neuroactive substances in these neurons. Triple immunostaining with antisera against Diploptera punctata allatostatin (Dip-AST), Manduca sexta allatotropin (Mas-AT), and serotonin (5HT) raised in the same host species revealed three spatially distinct TB-neuron clusters, each consisting of 10 neurons per hemisphere: cluster 1 and 3 showed Dip-AST/5HT immunostaining, whereas cluster 2 showed Dip-AST/Mas-AT immunostaining. Five subtypes of TB-neuron could be distinguished based on ramification patterns. Corresponding to ramification domains in the protocerebral bridge, the neurons invaded distinct but overlapping layers within the posterior optic tubercle. Similarly, neurons interconnecting the tubercles of the two hemispheres also targeted distinct layers of these neuropils. From these data we propose a neuronal circuit that may be suited to stabilize the internal sky compass in the central complex of the locust.
In the insect antennal lobe different types of local interneurons mediate complex excitatory and inhibitory interactions between the glomerular pathways to structure the spatiotemporal representation of odors. Mass spectrometric and immunohistochemical studies have shown that in local interneurons classical neurotransmitters are likely to colocalize with a variety of substances that can potentially act as cotransmitters or neuromodulators. In the antennal lobe of the cockroach Periplaneta americana, gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) has been identified as the potential inhibitory transmitter of spiking type I local interneurons, whereas acetylcholine is most likely the excitatory transmitter of nonspiking type IIa1 local interneurons. This study used whole-cell patch clamp recordings combined with single-cell labeling and immunohistochemistry to test if the GABAergic type I local interneurons and the cholinergic type IIa1 local interneurons express allatotropin and tachykinin-related neuropeptides (TKRPs). These are two of the most abundant types of peptides in the insect antennal lobe. GABA-like and choline acetyltransferase (ChAT)-like immunoreactivity were used as markers for GABAergic and cholinergic neurons, respectively. About 50% of the GABA-like immunoreactive (-lir) spiking type I local interneurons were allatotropin-lir, and ∼ 40% of these neurons were TKRP-lir. About 20% of nonspiking ChAT-lir type IIa1 local interneurons were TKRP-lir. Our results suggest that in subpopulations of GABAergic and cholinergic local interneurons, allatotropin and TKRPs might act as cotransmitters or neuromodulators. To unequivocally assign neurotransmitters, cotransmitters, and neuromodulators to identified classes of antennal lobe neurons is an important step to deepen our understanding of information processing in the insect olfactory system.