Insect-Like Organization of the Stomatopod Central Complex: Functional and Phylogenetic Implications
The central complex is a major integrative region within the insect brain with demonstrated roles in spatial orientation, the regulation of locomotor behavior, and sound production. In the hemimetabolous grasshopper, the central complex comprises the protocerebral bridge, central body (CB), ellipsoid body, noduli, and accessory lobes, and this modular organization develops entirely during embryogenesis. From a biochemical perspective, a range of neuroactive substances has been demonstrated in these modules of the adult central complex, but little is known about their developmental expression. In this study, we use matrix-assisted laser desorption/ionization-imaging mass spectrometry on single brain slices to confirm the presence of several peptide families (tachykinin, allatostatin, periviscerokinin/pyrokinin, FLRFamide, and neuropeptide F) in the adult central complex and then use immunohistochemistry and histology to examine their developmental expression, together with that of the indolamin serotonin, and the endogenous messenger nitric oxide (NO; via its synthesizing enzyme). We find that each neuromodulator is expressed according to a unique, stereotypic, pattern within the various modules making up the central complex. Neuropeptides such as tachykinin (55%) and allatostatin (65%), and the NO-synthesizing enzyme diaphorase (70%), are expressed earlier during embryonic development than the biogenic amine serotonin (80%), whereas periviscerokinin-like peptides and FLRFamide-like peptides begin to be expressed only postembryonically. Within the CB, these neuroactive substances are present in tangential projection neurons before they appear in columnar neurons. There is also no colocalization of serotonin-positive and peptide-positive projections up to the third larval instar during development, consistent with the clear dorsoventral layering of the neuropil we observe. Our results provide the first neurochemical fingerprint of the developing central complex in an hemimetabolous insect.