Ingestion lasts 25 min in Hirudo medicinalis and is characterized by pharyngeal peristalsis which fills the crop. This peristalsis has an initial rate of 2.4 Hz which decays smoothly to 1.2 Hz at termination of ingestion. During ingestion, the leech body wall undergoes peristalsis which appears to aid in filling the crop diverticula. Body peristalsis begins… (More)
Hungry leeches, Hirudo medicinalis, ingest blood meals averaging 890% of their mass in 29 min. Ingestion is terminated as a result of distension of the body: experimentally distending leeches as they feed causes an immediate cessation of ingestion and inhibits any subsequent biting behaviour; if distension is circumvented by various experimental procedures,… (More)
How does a simple nervous system control a behavior? In the bloodsucking medicinal leech a single neurotransmitter, serotonin, has been found to orchestrate the animal's search for a target, the movements of its jaws, the filling of its crop and even the distension of its body that eventually tells the leech enough is enough.
Hungry medicinal leeches, Hirudo medicinalis, bite warm surfaces and ingest blood meals averaging 890% of their weight. Satiation lasts 12-18 months during which leeches avoid warm surfaces and will not bite. The segmental nervous system of the leech is distinguished by a population of neurons which contain serotonin (5-Hydroxytryptamine, 5-HT) at high… (More)
1. Serotonin is sequestered by a limited population of identified neurons in the 32 ganglia of the leech nervous system. A major fraction of the serotonin in each ganglion is contained in the paired Retzius cells, colossal effector neurons whose size varies longitudinally. The 5 other classes of identified serotonin-containing neurons, one effector cell and… (More)
Thermal and chemical stimuli known to promote ingestive behaviours in the medicinal leech Hirudo medicinalis were tested for their physiological effects on Retzius neurones and for their biochemical effects on serotonin levels in the central nervous system, pharynx and body wall. Retzius neurones throughout the leech nerve cord receive excitatory synaptic… (More)
Two pairs of discrete salivary glands are located at the base of the muscular proboscis of the sanguivorous Glossiphoniid leeches Haementeria ghilianii and Haementeria officinalis. Each anterior gland is 0.8 cm to 2 cm in length, and comprises over 200 giant salivary cell bodies ranging from 150 microns to over 1000 microns in diameter, depending on the… (More)
Each segmental ganglion of the leech nervous system has two pairs of lateral roots extending to the body wall and viscera. A cluster of about eight neuron cell bodies is located proximal to the first major branch of each anterior root and is termed the anterior root ganglion (ARG). Only one of these eight cells is vitally-stained by Neutral Red dye and… (More)