Neurogenesis is an ongoing process in the brains of adult decapod crustaceans. However, the first-generation precursors that produce adult-born neurons, which reside in a neurogenic niche, are not self-renewing in crayfish and must be replenished. The source of these neuronal precursors is unknown. Here, we report that adult-born neurons in crayfish can be derived from hemocytes. Following adoptive transfer of 5-ethynyl-2'-deoxyuridine (EdU)-labeled hemocytes, labeled cells populate the neurogenic niche containing the first-generation neuronal precursors. Seven weeks after adoptive transfer, EdU-labeled cells are located in brain clusters 9 and 10 (where adult-born neurons differentiate) and express appropriate neurotransmitters. Moreover, the number of cells composing the neurogenic niche in crayfish is tightly correlated with total hemocyte counts (THCs) and can be manipulated by raising or lowering THC. These studies identify hemocytes as a source of adult-born neurons in crayfish and demonstrate that the immune system is a key contributor to adult neurogenesis.
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