Chordotonal organs in hemipteran insects: unique peripheral structures but conserved central organization revealed by comparative neuroanatomy

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Hemipteran insects use sophisticated vibrational communications by striking body appendages on the substrate or by oscillating the abdominal tymbal. There has been, however, little investigation of sensory channels for processing vibrational signals. Using sensory nerve stainings and low invasive confocal analyses, we demonstrate the comprehensive neuronal mapping of putative vibration-responsive chordotonal organs (COs) in stink bugs (Pentatomidae and Cydinidae) and cicadas (Cicadidae). The femoral CO (FCO) in stink bugs consists of ventral and dorsal scoloparia, homologous to distal and proximal scoloparia in locusts, which are implicated in joint movement detection and vibration detection, respectively. The ligament of the dorsal scoloparium is distally attached to the accessory extensor muscle, whereas that of the ventral scoloparium is attached to a specialized tendon. Their afferents project to the dorso-lateral neuropil and the central region of the medial ventral association center (mVAC) in the ipsilateral neuromere, where presumed dorsal scoloparium afferents and subgenual organ afferents are largely intermingled. In contrast, FCOs in cicadas have decreased dorsal scoloparium neurons and lack projections to the mVAC. The tymbal CO of stink bugs contains four sensory neurons that are distally attached to fat body cells via a ligament. Their axons project intersegmentally to the dorsal region of mVACs in all neuromeres. Together with comparisons of COs in different insect groups, the results suggest that hemipteran COs have undergone structural modification for achieving faster signaling of resonating peripheral tissues. The conserved projection patterns of COs suggest functional importance of the FCO and subgenual organ for vibrational communications.


  • Cell and tissue research

    Cell and tissue research 366(3), 549-572, 2016-12



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