Larval optic nerve and adult extra-retinal photoreceptors sequentially associate with clock neurons during Drosophila brain development.
The larval visual system in the fruitfly Drosophila melanogaster consists of two bilateral clusters of 12 photoreceptor cells. These neurons send their axons in a fascicle, the Bolwig's nerve, toward the target area in the ventral lateral region of the brain hemispheres. We describe the development of a serotonergic arborization originating in the central brain found in the larval optic center in association with the larval optic nerve. This arborization is formed by processes from larval neurons born during embryogenesis. However, these neuronal processes do not reach their final destination, the larval optic center, until late in larval development. Using mutations that disrupt the connectivity and/or development of the larval photoreceptor cells, as well as mosaic analysis, we demonstrate that the innervation of the larval optic center by this serotonergic arborization depends upon contact with the larval optic nerve.