• facial motoneurons;
  • development;
  • inner ear efferents;
  • chicken ear;
  • neuronal migration;
  • pathway selection


The differentiation of facial motoneurons and inner ear (octaval) efferents was examined in chicken embryos by applying Dil or dextran amines to the cut VII/VIII nerve (peripheral label) or to the basal/floor plate of rhombomeres 4/5 (central label). Central labeling found axons of these efferent neurons to leave the brain as early as 2.5 days of incubation. Peripheral labeling identified cell bodies ipsilaterally in rhombomeres 4 and 5 at 2.5 days. Central labeling at 3.5 days showed these fibers to have fully segregated into separate pathways to the facial nerve and the inner ear and that the octaval efferent axons had reached the otocyst wall. By 3.5 days many peripherally labeled octaval efferent somata were found in the floor plate and by 5 days they were found bilaterally. At 6 days, selective peripheral labeling of either the VIIth or VIIIthe nerve showed that the contralateral population consisted of octaval efferents and central label applied to the floor plate of rhombomeres 4/5 identified fibers that entered the octaval nerve via the facial root and entered the vestibular sensory epithelia. To gether these data suggest an initial mingling of two different motoneuron populations (facial and octaval) in rhombomeres 4/5 and a subsequent segregation by differential migration. Our data also find a much earlier arrival of octaval efferent axons at the otic vesicle than previously described and suggest a contralateral migration of many octaval efferents beginning shortly after their axons reach the facial nerve root. © 1993 John Wiley & Sons, Inc.