Phase maintenance in a rhythmic motor pattern during temperature changes in vivo

J Neurophysiol. 2014 Jun 15;111(12):2603-13. doi: 10.1152/jn.00906.2013. Epub 2014 Mar 26.


Central-pattern-generating neural circuits function reliably throughout an animal's life, despite constant molecular turnover and environmental perturbations. Fluctuations in temperature pose a problem to the nervous systems of poikilotherms because their body temperature follows the ambient temperature, thus affecting the temperature-dependent dynamics of various subcellular components that constitute neuronal circuits. In the crustacean stomatogastric nervous system, the pyloric circuit produces a triphasic rhythm comprising the output of the pyloric dilator, lateral pyloric, and pyloric constrictor neurons. In vitro, the phase relationships of these neurons are maintained over a fourfold change in pyloric frequency as temperature increases from 7°C to 23°C. To determine whether these temperature effects are also found in intact crabs, in the presence of sensory feedback and neuromodulator-rich environments, we measured the temperature dependence of the pyloric frequency and phases in vivo by implanting extracellular electrodes into Cancer borealis and Cancer pagurus and shifting tank water temperature from 11°C to 26°C. Pyloric frequency in the intact crab increased significantly with temperature (Q10 = 2-2.5), while pyloric phases were generally conserved. For a subset of the C. borealis experiments, animals were subsequently dissected and the stomatogastric ganglion subjected to a similar temperature ramp in vitro. We found that the maximal frequency attained at high temperatures in vivo is lower than it is under in vitro conditions. Our results demonstrate that, over a wide temperature range, the phases of the pyloric rhythm in vivo are generally preserved, but that the frequency range is more restricted than it is in vitro.

Keywords: central pattern generator; pyloric rhythm; robustness; stomatogastric ganglion.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Biological Clocks / physiology*
  • Brachyura / physiology*
  • Electrodes, Implanted
  • Ganglia, Invertebrate / physiology*
  • Motor Activity / physiology*
  • Species Specificity
  • Stomach
  • Temperature*
  • Tissue Culture Techniques