Serotonin-immunoreactive sensory neurons in the antenna of the cockroach Periplaneta americana



The antennae of insects contain a vast array of sensory neurons that process olfactory, gustatory, mechanosensory, hygrosensory, and thermosensory information. Except those with multimodal functions, most sensory neurons use acetylcholine as a neurotransmitter. Using immunohistochemistry combined with retrograde staining of antennal sensory neurons in the cockroach Periplaneta americana, we found serotonin-immunoreactive sensory neurons in the antenna. These were selectively distributed in chaetic and scolopidial sensilla and in the scape, the pedicel, and first 15 segments of the flagellum. In a chaetic sensillum, A single serotonin-immunoreactive sensory neuron cohabited with up to four serotonin-negative sensory neurons. Based on their morphological features, serotonin-immunopositive and -negative sensory neurons might process mechanosensory and contact chemosensory modalities, respectively. Scolopidial sensilla constitute the chordotonal and Johnston's organs within the pedicel and process antennal vibrations. Immunoelectron microscopy clearly revealed that serotonin-immunoreactivities selectively localize to a specific type of mechanosensory neuron, called type 1 sensory neuron. In a chordotonal scolopidial sensillum, a serotonin-immunoreactive type 1 neuron always paired with a serotonin-negative type 1 neuron. Conversely, serotonin-immunopositive and -negative type 1 neurons were randomly distributed in Johnston's organ. In the deutocerebrum, serotonin-immunoreactive sensory neuron axons formed three different sensory tracts and those from distinct types of sensilla terminated in distinct brain regions. Our findings indicate that a biogenic amine, serotonin, may act as a neurotransmitter in peripheral mechanosensory neurons. J. Comp. Neurol. 522:414–434, 2014. © 2013 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.