The pericardial organs (POs) are a pair of neurosecretory organs that surround the crustacean heart and release neuromodulators into the hemolymph. In adult crustaceans, the POs are known to contain a wide array of peptide and amine modulators. However, little is known about the modulatory content of POs early in development. We characterize the morphology and modulatory content of pericardial organs in the embryonic lobster, Homarus americanus. The POs are well developed by midway through embryonic (E50) life and contain a wide array of neuromodulatory substances. Immunoreactivities to orcokinin, extended FLRFamide peptides, tyrosine hydroxylase, proctolin, allatostatin, serotonin, Cancer borealis tachykinin-related peptide, cholecystokinin, and crustacean cardioactive peptide are present in the POs by approximately midway through embryonic life. There are two classes of projection patterns to the POs. Immunoreactivities to orcokinin, extended FLRFamide peptides, and tyrosine hydroxylase project solely from the subesophageal ganglion (SEG), whereas the remaining modulators project from the SEG as well as from the thoracic ganglia. Double-labeling experiments with a subset of modulators did not reveal any colocalized peptides in the POs. These results suggest that the POs could be a major source of neuromodulators early in development.
Copyright 2002 Wiley-Liss, Inc.