Jackson Estuarine Laboratory

Evidence for homologous peptidergic neurons in the buccal ganglia of diverse nudibranch mollusks


The buccal ganglia of seven nudibranches (Aeolidia papillosa, Armina californica, Dirona albolineata, D. picta, Hermissenda crassicornis, Melibe leonina , and Tritonia diomedea ) were examined to explore possible homologies between large cells that reacted with antibodies directed against small cardioactive peptide B (SCPB). The buccal ganglion of each species possessed a pair of large, dorsal–lateral, whitish neurons that contained an SCPB‐like peptide. We refer to these neurons as the SLB (SCPB‐immunoreactive Large Buccal ) cells. In all species examined, the SLB cells project out the gastroesophageal nerves and appear to innervate the esophagus.

In each species, an apparent rhythmic feeding motor program (FMP) was observed by intracellular recording from both SLB neurons and other neurons in isolated preparations of the buccal ganglia. SLB cells often fire at a high frequency, and usually burst in a specific phase relation to the FMP activity. Stimulation of SLB cells enhances expression of the feeding motor program, either by potentiating existing activity or eliciting the FMP in quiescent preparations. Finally, perfusion of isolated buccal ganglia with SCPB excites the SLB cells and activates FMPs. Thus, both the immunohistochemical and electrophysiological data suggest that the SLB cells within three suborders of the opistobranchia (Dendronotacea, Arminacea, and Aeolidacea ) are homologous. A comparison of our data with previously published studies indicates that SLB cell homologs may exist in other gastropods as well.

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Journal of Neurobiology



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