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PloS one

Central projections of gustatory receptor neurons in the medial and the lateral sensilla styloconica of Helicoverpa armigera larvae.


PMID 24740428

Abstract

Food selection behavior of lepidopteran larvae is predominantly governed by the activation of taste neurons present in two sensilla styloconica located on the galea of the maxilla. In this study, we present the ultrastructure of the sensilla styloconica and the central projection pattern of their associated receptor neurons in larvae of the heliothine moth, Helicoverpa armigera. By means of light microscopy and scanning electron microscopy, the previous findings of two morphologically fairly similar sensilla comprising a socketed conic tip inserted into a large peg were confirmed. However, the peg size of the medial sensillum was found to be significantly bigger than that of the lateral sensillum. The sensory neurons derived from each sensillum styloconicum were mapped separately using anterograde staining experiments combined with confocal laser-scanning microscopy. For determining the afferents' target regions relative to each other, we reconstructed the labeled axons and placed them into a common reference framework. The sensory axons from both sensilla projected via the ipsilateral maxillary nerve to the suboesophageal ganglion and further through the ipsilateral circumoesophageal connective to the brain. In the suboesophageal ganglion, the sensory projections targeted two areas of the ipsilateral maxillary neuropil, one located in the ventrolateral neuromere and the other adjacent to the neuromere midline. In the brain, the axon terminals targeted the dorso-anterior area of the ipsilateral tritocerebrum. As confirmed by the three-dimensional reconstructions, the target regions of the neural projections originating from each of the two sensilla styloconica were identical.