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Keywords:

  • anuran metamorphosis;
  • cell degeneration;
  • transcellular HRP transport;
  • lateral-line afferents;
  • lateral-line efferents

Abstract

Primary projections of the anterior and posterior lateral-line nerves were traced by means of transganglionic transport of horseradish peroxidase in species belonging to five of the six anuran superfamilies. Both anterior and posterior lateral-line nerve afferents each enter the brain via a single root which divides into two or more bundles. These bundles carry fibers from neuromasts only. No separate dorsal fascicle and no ampullary organs as in urodeles and gymnophions have been found. All bundles join in the neuropil of the nucleus intermedius to form ascending and descending fascicles. Two distinct fascicles are found in species showing little collateralization. No fasciculation is found in species with an elaborate telodendritic arborization. Afferents of the anterior lateral-line nerve run ventromedially and those of the posterior lateral-line nerve dorsolaterally within the ipsilateral nucleus intermedius neuropil. Rostrally they terminate in the vicinity of the eminentia granularis and caudally in the vicinity of the calamus scriptorius.

The metamorphic changes in the alar plate do not support the hypothesis of Larsell ('34) as to a change in function of second-order lateral-line neurons into second-order auditory neurons. The rostral part of the nucleus intermedius shows numerous degenerating neurons at metamorphic climax whereas the caudal part becomes part of the nucleus caudalis of adult anurans. Besides the members of the Pipoidea, there is at least the genus Bombina which retains parts of the lateral-line system.

The term “dorsal island”, its relevance for any part of the anuran brain, and the possible relation between absence of electroreception and the development of the nucleus dorsolateralis are discussed.