Toggle Main Menu Toggle Search

Open Access padlockePrints

The complex synaptic pathways onto a looming-detector neuron revealed using serial block-face scanning electron microscopy

Lookup NU author(s): Stefan Wernitznig, Dr Claire RindORCiD, Dr Gerd Leitinger



This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (CC BY 4.0).


© 2021 The Authors. The Journal of Comparative Neurology published by Wiley Periodicals LLC. The ability of locusts to detect looming stimuli and avoid collisions or predators depends on a neuronal circuit in the locust's optic lobe. Although comprehensively studied for over three decades, there are still major questions about the computational steps of this circuit. We used fourth instar larvae of Locusta migratoria to describe the connection between the lobula giant movement detector 1 (LGMD1) neuron in the lobula complex and the upstream neuropil, the medulla. Serial block-face scanning electron microscopy (SBEM) was used to characterize the morphology of the connecting neurons termed trans-medullary afferent (TmA) neurons and their synaptic connectivity. This enabled us to trace neurons over several hundred micrometers between the medulla and the lobula complex while identifying their synapses. We traced two different TmA neurons, each from a different individual, from their synapses with the LGMD in the lobula complex up into the medulla and describe their synaptic relationships. There is not a simple downstream transmission of the signal from a lamina neuron onto these TmA neurons; there is also a feedback loop in place with TmA neurons making outputs as well as receiving inputs. More than one type of neuron shapes the signal of the TmA neurons in the medulla. We found both columnar and trans-columnar neurons connected with the traced TmA neurons in the medulla. These findings indicate that there are computational steps in the medulla that have not been included in models of the neuronal pathway for looming detection.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Wernitznig S, Rind FC, Zankel A, Bock E, Gutl D, Hobusch U, Nikolic M, Pargger L, Pritz E, Radulovic S, Sele M, Summerauer S, Polt P, Leitinger G

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Journal of Comparative Neurology

Year: 2022

Volume: 530

Issue: 2

Pages: 518-536

Print publication date: 01/02/2022

Online publication date: 02/08/2021

Acceptance date: 13/07/2021

Date deposited: 26/08/2021

ISSN (print): 0021-9967

ISSN (electronic): 1096-9861

Publisher: John Wiley & Sons, Inc.


DOI: 10.1002/cne.25227


Altmetrics provided by Altmetric


Funder referenceFunder name
P 32376
P 32058
STEP2DYNA (691154)