Synaptogenesis in the Mushroom Body Calyx During Metamorphosis in the HoneybeeApis mellifera: An Electron Microscopic Study

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Abstract

The goals of this study are to determine relationships between synaptogenesis and morphogenesis within the mushroom body calyx of the honeybee Apis mellifera and to find out how the microglomerular structure characteristic for the mature calyx is established during metamorphosis. We show that synaptogenesis in the mushroom body calycal neuropile starts in early metamorphosis (stages P1–P3), before the microglomerular structure of the neuropile is established. The initial step of synaptogenesis is characterized by the rare occurrence of distinct synaptic contacts. A massive synaptogenesis starts at stage P5, which coincides with the formation of microglomeruli, structural units of the calyx that are composed of centrally located presynaptic boutons surrounded by spiny postsynaptic endings. Microglomeruli are assembled either via accumulation of fine postsynaptic processes around preexisting presynaptic boutons or via ingrowth of thin neurites of presynaptic neurons into premicroglomeruli, tightly packed groups of spiny endings. During late pupal stages (P8–P9), addition of new synapses and microglomeruli is likely to continue. Most of the synaptic appositions formed there are made by boutons (putative extrinsic mushroom body neurons) into small postsynaptic profiles that do not exhibit presynaptic specializations (putative intrinsic mushroom body neurons). Synapses between presynaptic boutons characteristic of the adult calyx first appear at stage P8 but remain rare toward the end of metamorphosis. Our observations are consistent with the hypothesis that most of the synapses established during metamorphosis provide the structural basis for afferent information flow to calyces, whereas maturation of local synaptic circuitry is likely to occur after adult emergence. J. Comp. Neurol. 497:876–897, 2006. © 2006 Wiley-Liss, Inc.

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