Lesion-induced insights in the plasticity of the insect auditory system
- Reinhard Lakes-Harlan
- Front. Physiol.
This study describes time course and ultrastructural changes during axonal degeneration of different neurones within the tympanal nerve of the locust Schistocerca gregaria. The tympanal nerve innervates the tergit and pleurit of the first abdominal segment and contains the axons of both sensory and motor neurones. The majority of axons (approx. 97%) belong to several types of sensory neurones: mechano- and chemosensitive hair sensilla, multipolar neurones, campaniform sensilla and sensory cells of a scolopidial organ, the auditory organ. Axons of campaniform sensilla, of auditory sensory cells and of motor neurones are wrapped by glial cell processes. In contrast, the very small and numerous axons (diameter <1 µm) of multipolar neurones and hair sensilla are not separated individually by glia sheets. Distal parts of sensory and motor axons show different reactions to axotomy: 1 week after separation from their somata, distal parts of motor axons are invaded by glial cell processes. This results in fascicles of small axon bundles. In contrast, distal parts of most sensory axons degenerate rapidly after being lesioned. The time to onset of degeneration depends on distance from the lesion site and on the type of sensory neurone. In axons of auditory sensory neurones, ultrastructural signs of degeneration can be found as soon as 2 days after lesion. After complete lysis of distal parts of axons, glial cell processes invade the space formerly occupied by sensory axons. The rapid degeneration of distal auditory axon parts allows it to be excluded that they provide a structure that leads regenerating axons to their targets. Proximal parts of severed axons do not degenerate.