Glomerular nucleus of the weakly electric fish, Gymnotus sp.: cytoarchitecture, histochemistry, and fiber connections--inisights from neuroanatomy to evolution and behavior

J Comp Neurol. 2011 Jun 15;519(9):1658-76. doi: 10.1002/cne.22593.


The present study provides a detailed description of morphological and hodological aspects of the glomerular nucleus in the weakly electric fish Gymnotus sp., and explores the evolutionary and functional implications flowing from this analysis. The glomerular nucleus of Gymnotus shows numerous morphological similarities with the glomerular nucleus of percomorph fish, although cytoarchitectonically simpler. In addition, congruence of the histochemical acetylcholinesterase (AChE) distribution with cytoarchitectonic data suggests that the glomerular nucleus, together with the ventromedial cell group of the medial subdivision of the preglomerular complex (PGm-vmc) rostrally, and the subglomerular nucleus (as identified by Maler et al. [1991] J Chem Neuroanat 4:1–38) caudally, may form a distinct longitudinally organized glomerular complex. Our results show that an important source of sensory afferents to the glomerular nucleus originates in the pretectal and electrosensorius nuclei. The glomerular nucleus in turn projects to the hypothalamus (inferior lobe and anterior hypothalamus), to the anterior tuberal nucleus, and to the medial region of the preglomerular nucleus (PGm). These data suggest that visual and electrosensory information reach the glomerular nucleus and are relayed to the hypothalamus and, via PGm, to the pallium. Such connections are similar to those of the glomerular nucleus in percomorphs and the posterior pretectal nucleus in osteoglossomorph, esocids, and salmonids, where they comprise one component of a visual processing pathway. In Gymnotiform fish, however, the pretectal region that projects to the glomerular nucleus is dominated by electrosensory input (visual input is minor), which is consistent with the dominant role of electroreception in these fish.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Anatomy, Comparative / methods
  • Animals
  • Axons / physiology
  • Axons / ultrastructure
  • Behavior, Animal / physiology
  • Electric Organ / physiology
  • Evolution, Molecular
  • Female
  • Gymnotiformes / anatomy & histology*
  • Gymnotiformes / physiology*
  • Histocytochemistry / methods
  • Male
  • Neural Pathways / cytology
  • Neural Pathways / physiology
  • Neuroanatomical Tract-Tracing Techniques / methods
  • Neurons / cytology*
  • Neurons / physiology
  • Species Specificity