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Boyan, George; Liu, Yu; Loser, Michael (2012): A cellular network of dye-coupled glia associated with the embryonic central complex in the grasshopper. In: Development Genes and Evolution, Vol. 222, No. 3: pp. 125-138
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The central complex of the grasshopper () brain comprises a modular set of neuropils, which develops after mid-embryogenesis and is functional on hatching. Early in embryogenesis, Repo-positive glia cells are found intermingled among the commissures of the midbrain, but then redistribute as central complex modules become established and, by the end of embryogenesis, envelop all midbrain neuropils. The predominant glia associated with the central body during embryogenesis are glutamine synthetase-/Repo-positive astrocyte-like glia, which direct extensive processes (gliopodia) into and around midbrain neuropils. We used intracellular dye injection in brain slices to ascertain whether such glia are dye-coupled into a communicating cellular network during embryogenesis. Intracellular staining of individual cells located at any one of four sites around the central body revealed a population of dye-coupled cells whose number and spatial distribution were stereotypic for each site and comparable at both 70 and 100 % of embryogenesis. Subsequent immunolabeling confirmed these dye-coupled cells to be astrocyte-like glia. The addition of -heptanol to the bathing saline prevented all dye coupling, consistent with gap junctions linking the glia surrounding the central body. Since dye coupling also occurred in the absence of direct intersomal contacts, it might additionally involve the extensive array of gliopodia, which develop after glia are arrayed around the central body. Collating the data from all injection sites suggests that the developing central body is surrounded by a network of dye-coupled glia, which we speculate may function as a positioning system for the developing neuropils of the central complex.