Scorpions pectines - Idiosyncratic chemo- and mechanosensory organs

Arthropod Struct Dev. 2017 Nov;46(6):753-764. doi: 10.1016/j.asd.2017.10.002. Epub 2017 Oct 27.


Scorpions possess specialised chemosensory appendages, the pectines. These comb-shaped limbs are located ventrally behind the walking legs. Like the antennae of mandibulate arthropods, they also serve a mechanosensory function. However, more than 90% of the sometimes well above 100,000 sensory neurons projecting from a pectine to the central nervous system are chemosensory. There are two primary projection neuropils. The posterior one, immediately adjacent to the pectine nerve entrance, has an intriguing substructure reminiscent of the olfactory glomeruli observed in the primary chemosensory neuropils of many arthropods and indeed of most bilaterian animals. There are further similarities, particularly to the antennal lobes of mandibulate arthropods, including dense innervation by a relatively small number of putative serotonergic interneurons and the presence of GABA immunoreactivity, indicative of inhibitory interactions. Scorpion idiosyncrasies include the flattened shape and broad size range of the glomerulus-like neuropil compartments. Further, these compartments are often not clearly delimited and form layers in the neuropil that are arranged like onion peels. In summary, the pectine appendages of scorpions and their central nervous projections appear as promising study subjects, particularly regarding comparative examination of chemosensory representation and processing strategies. The possibility of combined, rather than discrete, representations of chemo- and mechanosensory inputs should merit further study.

Keywords: Arthropod appendage; Chemosensor; Neuroanatomy; Olfactory glomerulus; Primary afferent neuropil; Scorpion pectine.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Central Nervous System / physiology
  • Chemoreceptor Cells / physiology*
  • Extremities / anatomy & histology
  • Extremities / physiology
  • Mechanoreceptors / physiology
  • Neuropil / physiology
  • Scorpions / anatomy & histology
  • Scorpions / physiology*