Neurons projecting from the brain to the corpora allata in orthopteroid insects: anatomy and physiology

Abstract

Retrograde and orthograde labeling of neurons projecting to the corpus allatum was performed in locust, grasshopper, cricket, and cockroach species in order to identify brain neurons that may be involved in the regulation of juvenile hormone production. In the acridid grasshopper Gomphocerus rufus L., and the locusts Locusta migratoria (R.&F.) and Schistocerca gregaria Forskal, the corpora allata are innervated by two morphologically distinguishable types of brain neurons. One group of 9–13 neurons (depending on species) with somata in the pars lateralis extend axons via the nervus corporis cardiaci 2 and nervus corporis allati 1 to the ipsilateral corpus allatum, whereas two cells in each pars lateralis have bilateral projections and innervate both glands. No direct connection between the pars intercerebralis and corpus allatum has been found. In contrast, neurons with paired axons innervating both glands are not present in Periplaneta americana (L.) and Gryllus bimaculatus de Geer. Instead, two cells in each pars lateralis project only to the gland contralateral to their somata. Electrophysiological experiments on acridid grasshoppers have confirmed the existence of a direct conduction pathway between the two glands via the paired axons of four cells that have been identified by neuroanatomy. These cells are not spontaneously active under experimental conditions. Ongoing discharges in the left and right nerves are unrelated, suggesting that the corpora allata receive independent neuronal inputs from the brain.

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