A detailed account is given by the octopaminergic innervation of the antennal heart in Schistocerca gregaria using various immunohistochemical methods. Anterograde axonal filling illustrates the unilateral innervation on the medial ventral surface of the pumping muscle of the antennal heart via the paired corpora cardiaca nerve III. In addition, antibody staining revealed that ascending axons of this nerve terminate at the ampullae of the antennal heart forming synaptoid structures and extensive neurohaemal release sites. Due to the innervation by two dorsal unpaired median neurons, the presence of the biogenic amines octopamine and tyramine could be visualized by immunocytochemistry in an insect antennal heart for the first time. The data suggest that tyramine acts as a precursor and not purely as an independent transmitter. While the octopaminergic fibers innervating the pumping muscle of the antennal heart indicate a cardioregulatory role, we conclude that octopamine released from the neurohaemal area is pumped into the antennae and an involvement in the modulation of the antennal sensory sensitivity is discussed.
Keywords: Accessory pulsatile organ; Circulation; Octopamine; Sensory modulation; Tyramine.