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Keywords:

  • neuroanatomy;
  • insect hearing;
  • tympanal organ;
  • scolopidial sensilla;
  • crista acustica

Abstract

The auditory sense organ of Tettigoniidae (Insecta, Orthoptera) is located in the foreleg tibia and consists of scolopidial sensilla which form a row termed crista acustica. The crista acustica is associated with the tympana and the auditory trachea. This ear is a highly ordered, tonotopic sensory system. As the neuroanatomy of the crista acustica has been documented for several species, the most distal somata and dendrites of receptor neurons have occasionally been described as forming an alternating or double row. We investigate the spatial arrangement of receptor cell bodies and dendrites by retrograde tracing with cobalt chloride solution. In six tettigoniid species studied, distal receptor neurons are consistently arranged in double-rows of somata rather than a linear sequence. This arrangement of neurons is shown to affect 30–50% of the overall auditory receptors. No strict correlation of somata positions between the anterio-posterior and dorso-ventral axis was evident within the distal crista acustica. Dendrites of distal receptors occasionally also occur in a double row or are even massed without clear order. Thus, a substantial part of auditory receptors can deviate from a strictly straight organization into a more complex morphology. The linear organization of dendrites is not a morphological criterion that allows hearing organs to be distinguished from nonhearing sense organs serially homologous to ears in all species. Both the crowded arrangement of receptor somata and dendrites may result from functional constraints relating to frequency discrimination, or from developmental constraints of auditory morphogenesis in postembryonic development. J. Morphol. © 2012 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.