A neural network to improve dim-light vision? Dendritic fields of first-order interneurons in the nocturnal bee Megalopta genalis

Cell Tissue Res. 2005 Nov;322(2):313-20. doi: 10.1007/s00441-005-0034-y. Epub 2005 Nov 3.


Using the combined Golgi-electron microscopy technique, we have determined the three-dimensional dendritic fields of the short visual fibres (svf 1-3) and first-order interneurons or L-fibres (L1-4) within the first optic ganglion (lamina) of the nocturnal bee Megalopta genalis. Serial cross sections have revealed that the svf type 2 branches into one adjacent neural unit (cartridge) in layer A, the most distal of the three lamina layers A, B and C. All L-fibres, except L1-a, exhibit wide lateral branching into several neighbouring cartridges. L1-b shows a dendritic field of seven cartridges in layers A and C, dendrites of L2 target 13 cartridges in layer A, L3 branches over a total of 12 cartridges in layer A and three in layer C and L4 has the largest dendritic field size of 18 cartridges in layer C. The number of cartridges reached by the respective L-fibres is distinctly greater in the nocturnal bee than in the worker honeybee and is larger than could be estimated from our previous Golgi-light microscopy study. The extreme dorso-ventrally oriented dendritic field of L4 in M. genalis may, in addition to its potential role in spatial summation, be involved in edge detection. Thus, we have shown that the amount of lateral spreading present in the lamina provides the anatomical basis for the required spatial summation. Theoretical and future physiological work should further elucidate the roles that this lateral spreading plays to improve dim-light vision in nocturnal insects.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Bees*
  • Darkness*
  • Dendrites / metabolism*
  • Dendrites / ultrastructure
  • Female
  • Interneurons / metabolism*
  • Interneurons / ultrastructure
  • Light
  • Nerve Net*
  • Photoreceptor Cells, Invertebrate / physiology
  • Photoreceptor Cells, Invertebrate / ultrastructure
  • Vision, Ocular / physiology*
  • Visual Fields / physiology*