Journal of Comparative Neurology

Cover image for Vol. 523 Issue 12


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Online ISSN: 1096-9861

Mushroom Bodies


A century of studies on insect brains from the Journal of Comparative Neurology

Reflecting its title, comparative studies on insect brains have had a long history in the Journal of Comparative Neurology. Mushroom bodies have received particular attention. An early report by Kenyon (1896) on the honeybee Apis mellifica was the first to use Golgi impregnation studies on an insect brain. Amongst other cell types, it reports fibers of intrinsic ganglion cells, later renamed Kenyon cells (Strausfeld, 1976), that receive input at their dendrites in the calyces and have axons that fasciculate in a stalk, or pedunculus, to terminate in the lobes. These structures are conserved in different insects, those in flies now identified as important structures in olfactory learning and memory. Different morphological classes of Kenyon cells emerge sequentially, those in the house cricket Gryllus bimaculatus adding even in the adult as an especially clear example of secondary neurogenesis in that species (Marshaly et al., 2008).

The panels above reproduce illustrations from Kenyon’s (1896) early account: (A) micrographs from copper-copper-hematoxylin stained wax sections of honeybee brains is on the left side of (B) a diagram of cell types color-coded for their type (e.g. red: cells and axons associated with the mushroom bodies).

(C) Confocal image of adult cricket brains (from Mashaly et al., 2008) double-labeled with phalloidin to detect f-actin (green) and anti-tubulin (magenta). Mushroom bodies and neighboring neuropils in the perikaryal layer (PL), with fiber bundles of Kenyon cell axons descending to the lateral parts of the pedunculus. In the central core (thick arrow) f-actin labeling is preponderant. Synaptic neuropils of the calyx (anterior, AC; posterior PC) and other brain regions contain considerable amounts of f-actin. A conical cluster of sprouting cells and an associated compact central core of emerging axons shows strong phalloidin f-actin labeling, surrounded by circumferential fiber bundles (arrowheads) from older Kenyon cells.


Kenyon FC. 1896. The brain of the bee. A preliminary contribution to the morphology of the nervous system of the Arthropoda. J Comp Neurol 6:133-210. Mashaly A, Winkler M, Frambach I, Gras H, Schürmann FW. 2008.

Sprouting interneurons in mushroom bodies of adult cricket brains. J Comp Neurol 508:153-174. Strausfeld NJ. 1976.

Atlas of an Insect Brain. Springer-Verlag, Berlin, Heidelberg.

Virtual Issue

The brain of the bee. A preliminary contribution to the morphology of the nervous system of the arthropoda
F. C. Kenyon Ph.D.

Sprouting interneurons in mushroom bodies of adult cricket brains
Ashraf Mashaly, Margret Winkler, Ina Frambach, Heribert Gras, Friedrich-Wilhelm Schürmann

Ground plan of the insect mushroom body: functional and evolutionary implications
Nicholas J. Strausfeld, Irina Sinakevitch, Sheena M. Brown, Sarah M. Farris

Different classes of input and output neurons reveal new features in microglomeruli of the adult Drosophila mushroom body calyx
Zhiyuan Lu, Hiromu Tanimoto and Ian A. Meinertzhagen

CaMKII is differentially localized in synaptic regions of kenyon cells within the mushroom bodies of the honeybee brain
Elisabeth Pasch, Thomas Sebastian Muenz and Wolfgang Rössler

Developmental expression of cell recognition molecules in the mushroom body and antennal lobe of the locust Locusta migratoria
René Eickhoff and Gerd Bicker

Compartmentalization of the precheliceral neuroectoderm in the spider Cupiennius salei: Development of the arcuate body, optic ganglia, and mushroom body
Carola Doeffinger, Volker Hartenstein and Angelika Stollewerk

Synaptic organization in the adult Drosophila mushroom body calyx
Florian Leiss, Claudia Groh, Nancy J. Butcher, Ian A. Meinertzhagen and Gaia Tavosanis