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Identification of distinct tyraminergic and octopaminergic neurons innervating the central complex of the desert locust, Schistocerca gregaria



The central complex is a group of modular neuropils in the insect brain with a key role in visual memory, spatial orientation, and motor control. In desert locusts the neurochemical organization of the central complex has been investigated in detail, including the distribution of dopamine-, serotonin-, and histamine-immunoreactive neurons. In the present study we identified neurons immunoreactive with antisera against octopamine, tyramine, and the enzymes required for their synthesis, tyrosine decarboxylase (TDC) and tyramine β-hydroxylase (TBH). Octopamine- and tyramine immunostaining in the central complex differed strikingly. In each brain hemisphere tyramine immunostaining was found in four neurons innervating the noduli, 12–15 tangential neurons of the protocerebral bridge, and about 17 neurons that supplied the anterior lip region and parts of the central body. In contrast, octopamine immunostaining was present in two bilateral pairs of ascending fibers innervating the upper division of the central body and a single pair of neurons with somata near the esophageal foramen that gave rise to arborizations in the protocerebral bridge. Immunostaining for TDC, the enzyme converting tyrosine to tyramine, combined the patterns seen with the tyramine- and octopamine antisera. Immunostaining for TBH, the enzyme converting tyramine to octopamine, in contrast, was strikingly similar to octopamine immunolabeling. We conclude that tyramine and octopamine act as neurotransmitters/modulators in distinct sets of neurons of the locust central complex with TBH likely being the rate-limiting enzyme for octopamine synthesis in a small subpopulation of TDC-containing neurons. J. Comp. Neurol. 521:2025–2041, 2013. © 2012 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.

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