The role of antennal sensory axons in the induction and stabilization of olfactory glomeruli has been explored in the moth Manduca sexta. First, we asked the question: how many axons are necessary to induce glomerulus formation within the first‐order olfactory neuropil of the brain? Axons from as few as 10 of the normal 70–80 repeating antennal segments were sufficient to induce glomeruli. However, there was a dose dependence in the number of glomeruli that developed in partially innervated lobes. When only 11 segments of the antenna were allowed to provide innervation to the lobe, only 37 of the normal 59 ± 2 glomeruli developed; over 20 segments were necessary to induce the normal number of glomeruli. In a second set of experiments, we asked: for how long must antennal axons be present to stabilize newly formed glomeruli? We found that antennal axons must be intact for at least 2 to 4 stages (roughly equivalent to 2 to 4 days) for glomeruli to be stable even if the axons are subsequently severed. This finding, taken in the light of other recent findings in our laboratory, suggests that the formation of synapses may be a crucial element in the stabilization of glomerular structure. All together, the results of the present study indicate that induction and stabilization of glomeruli are separable events with different underlying cellular bases.
- antennal lobe
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