The central complex comprises an elaborate system of modular neuropils which mediate spatial orientation and sensory-motor integration in insects such as the grasshopper and Drosophila. The neuroarchitecture of the largest of these modules, the fan-shaped body, is characterized by its stereotypic set of decussating fiber bundles. These are generated during development by axons from four homologous protocerebral lineages which enter the commissural system and subsequently decussate at stereotypic locations across the brain midline. Since the commissural organization prior to fan-shaped body formation has not been previously analyzed in either species, it was not clear how the decussating bundles relate to individual lineages, or if the projection pattern is conserved across species. In this study, we trace the axonal projections from the homologous central complex lineages into the commissural system of the embryonic and larval brains of both the grasshopper and Drosophila. Projections into the primordial commissures of both species are found to be lineage-specific and allow putatively equivalent fascicles to be identified. Comparison of the projection pattern before and after the commencement of axon decussation in both species reveals that equivalent commissural fascicles are involved in generating the columnar neuroarchitecture of the fan-shaped body. Further, the tract-specific columns in both the grasshopper and Drosophila can be shown to contain axons from identical combinations of central complex lineages, suggesting that this columnar neuroarchitecture is also conserved.
Development Genes and Evolution – Springer Journals
Published: Jul 27, 2017
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