Heterogeneity in dendritic morphology of moth antennal lobe projection neurons

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A population of projection neurons (PNs) in the antennal lobe (AL) integrates sensory information from the antenna and is essential for processing odor information in the insect brain. We examined the anatomy of this neuronal population in the brain of the silkmoth Bombyx mori. Using intracellular dye injection, we labeled a total of 246 PNs and systematically analyzed their morphological features, including the soma position, antennocerebral tract, and number of innervating glomeruli. For example, we analyzed PNs that had somata in the different cell clusters, innervated overlapping but different groups of glomeruli, and ran through different pathways. We also identified glomeruli innervated by PNs using a previously established procedure that first classifies glomeruli into regional groups and then identifies individual glomeruli. We analyzed uniglomerular PNs (75.6% of the total) and found heterogeneity in the dendritic morphology of the PNs that was dependent on the regions and/or the innervating glomeruli. For example, most PNs innervating the macroglomerular complex did not have extraglomerular processes, whereas most PNs innervating ordinary glomeruli did. Moreover, PNs innervating the toroid glomerulus showed heterogeneity in their dendritic morphology. These PNs had dendritic arborization in different areas within the glomerulus. We found that, in some cases, the innervation pattern of the PN dendrite correlated with individual variation in the glomerular organization. These results indicate that PNs are not homogeneous populations, and in some cases morphological heterogeneity in PNs correlated with change in glomerular organization in the silkmoth AL. J. Comp. Neurol. 519:3367–3386, 2011. © 2011 Wiley-Liss, Inc.

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