The anatomical substrates of neural nets are usually composed from reconstructions of neurons that were stained in different preparations. Realistic models of the structural relationships between neurons require a common framework. Here we present 3-D reconstructions of single projection neurons (PN) connecting the antennal lobe (AL) with the mushroom body (MB) and lateral horn, groups of intrinsic mushroom body neurons (type 5 Kenyon cells), and a single mushroom body extrinsic neuron (PE1), aiming to compose components of the olfactory pathway in the honeybee. To do so, we constructed a digital standard atlas of the bee brain. The standard atlas was created as an average-shape atlas of 22 neuropils, calculated from 20 individual immunostained whole-mount bee brains. After correction for global size and positioning differences by repeatedly applying an intensity-based nonrigid registration algorithm, a sequence of average label images was created. The results were qualitatively evaluated by generating average gray-value images corresponding to the average label images and judging the level of detail within the labeled regions. We found that the first affine registration step in the sequence results in a blurred image because of considerable local shape differences. However, already the first nonrigid iteration in the sequence corrected for most of the shape differences among individuals, resulting in images rich in internal detail. A second iteration improved on that somewhat and was selected as the standard. Registering neurons from different preparations into the standard atlas reveals 1) that the m-ACT neuron occupies the entire glomerulus (cortex and core) and overlaps with a local interneuron in the cortical layer; 2) that, in the MB calyces and the lateral horn of the protocerebral lobe, the axon terminals of two identified m-ACT neurons arborize in separate but close areas of the neuropil; and 3) that MB-intrinsic clawed Kenyon cells (type 5), with somata outside the calycal cups, project to the peduncle and lobe output system of the MB and contact (proximate) the dendritic tree of the PE1 neuron at the base of the vertical lobe. Thus the standard atlas and the procedures applied for registration serve the function of creating realistic neuroanatomical models of parts of a neural net. The Honeybee Standard Brain is accessible at www.neurobiologie.fu-berlin.de/beebrain.
Copyright (c) 2005 Wiley-Liss, Inc.