Seasonal differences in the physiology and morphology of crayfish motor terminals

J Neurobiol. 1991 Sep;22(6):561-9. doi: 10.1002/neu.480220602.


The physiology and morphology of identified crayfish motor terminals were compared at different seasons. We examined initial excitatory postsynaptic potential (EPSP) amplitudes, synaptic fatigue, and the frequency of synaptic varicosities along the motor terminals of an identified phasic motoneuron in animals collected over a period of 5 years. The physiology and morphology of identified crayfish motor terminals are different for animals collected in summer and winter. In winter animals, phasic axon motor terminals in the claw closer muscle produce large EPSPs initially, but show dramatic synaptic fatigue during repetitive stimulation. In summer animals, these terminals produce smaller initial EPSPs, but are more fatigue resistant. Due to their greater fatigue resistance, synaptic terminals have a greater over-all capacity for transmitter release in summer animals than do those of winter animals. Morphologically, terminals in summer animals have more synaptic varicosities, this result supports earlier studies that have shown that fatigue-resistant motor terminals have more synaptic varicosities. Experiments in which the electrical activity of the motoneuron was experimentally altered suggest that these differences in motor terminals may be due to seasonal differences in activity.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Acclimatization
  • Animals
  • Astacoidea / physiology*
  • Electric Stimulation
  • Evoked Potentials
  • In Vitro Techniques
  • Motor Neurons / physiology*
  • Motor Neurons / ultrastructure
  • Seasons
  • Synapses / physiology*
  • Synapses / ultrastructure