Differential odor processing in two olfactory pathways in the honeybee

Front Syst Neurosci. 2009 Dec 4;3:16. doi: 10.3389/neuro.06.016.2009. eCollection 2009.

Abstract

An important component in understanding central olfactory processing and coding in the insect brain relates to the characterization of the functional divisions between morphologically distinct types of projection neurons (PN). Using calcium imaging, we investigated how the identity, concentration and mixtures of odors are represented in axon terminals (boutons) of two types of PNs - lPN and mPN. In lPN boutons we found less concentration dependence, narrow tuning profiles at a high concentration, which may be optimized for fine, concentration-invariant odor discrimination. In mPN boutons, however, we found clear rising concentration dependence, broader tuning profiles at a high concentration, which may be optimized for concentration coding. In addition, we found more mixture suppression in lPNs than in mPNs, indicating lPNs better adaptation for synthetic mixture processing. These results suggest a functional division of odor processing in both PN types.

Keywords: calcium imaging; functional division; insect; mushroom body; olfaction; parallel processing; projection neuron.