Morphology and Physiology of the Ascidian Nervous Systems and the Effectors

Adv Exp Med Biol. 2018:1029:179-196. doi: 10.1007/978-981-10-7545-2_16.


Neurobiology in ascidians has made many advances. Ascidians have offered natural advantages to researchers, including fecundity, structural simplicity, invariant morphology, and fast and stereotyped developmental processes. The researchers have also accumulated on this animal a great deal of knowledge, genomic resources, and modern genetic techniques. A recent connectomic analysis has shown an ultimately resolved image of the larval nervous system, whereas recent applications of live imaging and optogenetics have clarified the functional organization of the juvenile nervous system. Progress in resources and techniques have provided convincing ways to deepen what we have wanted to know about the nervous systems of ascidians. Here, the research history and the current views regarding ascidian nervous systems are summarized.

Keywords: Chordate evolution; Connectome; Development of membrane excitability; Metamorphosis; Motor control; Motor ganglion; Motor pattern generation; Muscle; Simple brain.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Action Potentials
  • Animals
  • Animals, Genetically Modified
  • Brain / cytology
  • Cell Lineage
  • Ciona intestinalis / cytology
  • Ciona intestinalis / growth & development
  • Connectome
  • Ependyma / cytology
  • Forecasting
  • Ganglia, Invertebrate / cytology
  • Genes, Reporter
  • Imaging, Three-Dimensional
  • Intravital Microscopy
  • Larva / cytology
  • Larva / ultrastructure
  • Muscle Cells / cytology
  • Nervous System / anatomy & histology*
  • Nervous System / growth & development
  • Nervous System Physiological Phenomena / genetics
  • Neurogenesis* / genetics
  • Neurons / cytology
  • Optogenetics
  • Sense Organs / cytology
  • Swimming
  • Tail / innervation
  • Urochordata / anatomy & histology*
  • Urochordata / growth & development
  • Urochordata / physiology