Development of the gin trap reflex in Manduca sexta: a comparison of larval and pupal motor responses

B. Waldrop, R. B. Levine

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

32 Scopus citations


1. Responses of motor neurons in larvae and pupae of Manduca sexta to stimulation of tactile sensory neurons were measured in both semiintact, and isolated nerve cord preparations. These motor neurons innervate abdominal intersegmental muscles which are involved in the production of a general flexion reflex in the larva, and the closure reflex of the pupal gin traps. 2. Larval motor neurons respond to stimulation of sensory neurons innervating abdominal mechanosensory hairs with prolonged, tonic excitation ipsilaterally, and either weak excitation or inhibition contralaterally (Figs. 4A, 6). 3. Pupae respond to tactile stimulation of mechanosensory hairs within the gin traps with a rapid closure reflex. Motor neurons which innervate muscles ipsilateral to the stimulus exhibit a large depolarization, high frequency firing, and abrupt termination (Figs. 2, 4B). Generally, contralateral motor neurons fire antiphasically to the ipsilateral motor neurons, producing a characteristic triphasic firing pattern (Figs. 7, 8) which is not seen in the larva. 4. Pupal motor neurons can also respond to sensory stimulation with other types of patterns, including rotational responses (Fig. 3 A), gin trap opening reflexes (Fig. 3 B), and 'flip-flop' responses (Fig. 9). 5. Pupal motor neurons, like larval motor neurons, do not show oscillatory responses to tonic current injection, nor do motor neurons of either stage appear to interact synaptically with one another. Most pupal motor neurons also exhibit i-V properties similar to those of larval motor neurons (Table 1; Fig. 10). Some pupal motor neurons, however, show a marked non-linear response to depolarizing current injection (Fig. 11).

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)743-753
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Comparative Physiology A
Issue number6
StatePublished - Nov 1 1989

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Physiology
  • Animal Science and Zoology
  • Behavioral Neuroscience


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