Peptidergic motoneurons in the buccal ganglia of Aplysia californica: immunocytochemical, morphological, and physiological characterizations

J Comp Physiol A. 1991 Mar;168(3):323-36. doi: 10.1007/BF00198352.


We used physiological recordings, intracellular dye injections and immunocytochemistry to further identify and characterize neurons in the buccal ganglia of Aplysia californica expressing Small Cardioactive Peptide-like immunoreactivity (SCP-LI). Neurons were identified based upon soma size and position, input from premotor cells B4 and B5, axonal projections, muscle innervation patterns, and neuromuscular synaptic properties. SCP-LI was observed in several large ventral neurons including B6, B7, B9, B10, and B11, groups of s1 and s2 cluster cells, at least one cell located at a branch point of buccal nerve n2, and the previously characterized neurons B1, B2 and B15. B6, B7, B9, B10 and B11 are motoneurons to intrinsic muscles of the buccal mass, each displaying a unique innervation pattern and neuromuscular plasticity. Combined, these motoneurons innervate all major intrinsic buccal muscles (I1/I3, I2, I4, I5, I6). Correspondingly, SCP-LI processes were observed on all of these muscles. Innervation of multiple nonhomologous buccal muscles by individual motoneurons having extremely plastic neuromuscular synapses, represents a unique form of neuromuscular organization which is prevalent in this system. Our results show numerous SCPergic buccal motoneurons with widespread ganglionic processes and buccal muscle innervation, and support extensive use of SCPs in the control of feeding musculature.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Aplysia / physiology*
  • Cheek / anatomy & histology
  • Cheek / innervation
  • Electrodes
  • Evoked Potentials / physiology
  • Ganglia / anatomy & histology
  • Ganglia / physiology*
  • Immunohistochemistry
  • Isoquinolines
  • Magnesium Chloride / pharmacology
  • Motor Neurons / drug effects
  • Motor Neurons / physiology*
  • Peptides / physiology*
  • Synapses / physiology


  • Isoquinolines
  • Peptides
  • Magnesium Chloride
  • lucifer yellow