Types, numbers and distribution of synapses on the dendritic tree of an identified visual interneuron in the brain of the locust

Cell Tissue Res. 1999 Jun;296(3):645-65. doi: 10.1007/s004410051325.


The descending contralateral movement detector (DCMD), an identified descending interneuron in the brain of the locust Schistocerca gregaria has been investigated by using light and electron microscopy. We describe the fine structure, distribution and numbers of synapses that it receives from another identified brain neuron, the lobular giant movement detector (LGMD), and from unidentified neurons. The DCMD dendrites emerging from the integrative segment vary in form and number between individuals and sexes but always form a flattened dendritic domain. The arborizations and the integrative segment appear to be exclusively postsynaptic. Two types of synaptic contacts (Type 1 and 2) onto the DCMD can be discerned as having either round (Type 1) or pleiomorphic synaptic vesicles (Type 2) and by large (Type 1) or small (Type 2) subsynaptic appositions. Contact zones of Type 1 synapses are smaller than those of Type 2. LGMD-synapses are of Type 1 and occur intermingled with presynaptic sites of unidentified units. Some branches of the DCMD receiving input from unidentified units are devoid of contacting LGMD processes. Synapses of both types are randomly distributed over the DCMD integrative segment and at fibres with similar sizes. Type 1 synapses are much more frequent than Type 2 synapses and their number is negatively correlated with fibre diameter. For a whole DCMD dendritic arborization, a total of 8500 active zones of chemical synapses has been calculated, including a minimum of 2250 LGMD-synapses and about 1000 Type 2 synapses. The DCMD may thus receive a considerable amount of input from as yet unidentified neurons.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Brain / cytology*
  • Brain / physiology
  • Dendrites / physiology
  • Dendrites / ultrastructure
  • Grasshoppers
  • Microscopy, Electron
  • Neurons / cytology*
  • Neurons / physiology
  • Synapses / physiology
  • Synapses / ultrastructure*
  • Vision, Ocular / physiology