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Williams, J. L. D.; Boyan, George (2008): Building the central complex of the grasshopper Schistocerca gregaria: axons pioneering the w, x, y, z tracts project onto the primary commissural fascicle of the brain. In: Arthropod Structure & Development, Vol. 37, No. 2: pp. 129-140
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The central complex is a major neuropilar structure in the insect brain whose distinctive, modular, neuroarchitecture in the grasshopper is exemplified by a bilateral set of four fibre bundles called the w, x, y and z tracts. These columns represent the stereotypic projection of axons from the pars intercerebralis into commissures of the central complex. Each column is established separately during early embryogenesis in a clonal manner by the progeny of a subset of four identified protocerebral neuroblasts. We report here that dye injected into identified pioneers of the primary brain commissure between 31 and 37% of embryogenesis couples to cells in the pars intercerebralis which we identify as progeny of the W, X, Y, or Z neuroblasts. These progeny are the oldest within each lineage, and also putatively the first to project an axon into the protocerebral commissure. The axons of pioneers from each tract do not fasciculate with one other prior to entry into the commissure, thereby prefiguring the modular w, x, y, z columns of the adult central complex. Within the commissure, pioneer axons from columnar tracts fasciculate with the growth cones of identified pioneers of the existing primary fascicle and do not pioneer a separate fascicle. The results suggest that neurons pioneering a columnar neuroarchitecture within the embryonic central complex utilize the existing primary commissural scaffold to navigate the brain midline. (C) 2007 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.