Anatomy of the Giant Fibre Pathway in Drosophila. I. Three Thoracic Components of the Pathway

J Neurocytol. 1980 Dec;9(6):753-70. doi: 10.1007/BF01205017.


Activity in the flight muscles and jump muscles in Drosophila can be stimulated by excitation of a pair of giant fibres that enter the thoracic ganglion from the brain. Contrary to previous descriptions, these giant fibres are not themselves motor axons. Each giant fibre contacts both a large motor axon and an interneuron. The motor axon innervates the ipsilateral tergotrochanteral (jump) muscle. The interneuron synapses in turn with the motor neurons that innervate the contralateral dorsal longitudinal flight muscle. The output synapses of this interneuron occur directly onto the motor axons within a peripheral nerve. The unusual peripheral location for these interneuron synapses suggests that the interneuron may function to speed up activation of the motor axons by bypassing integration within the motor neurons' dendritic trees. The synapses are typical dipteran chemical synapses, with occasional reciprocal contacts from the motor axons back onto the interneuron. The interneuron-motor axon synapses may be especially useful for morphological studies of identified synaptic contacts because their peripheral location makes them extremely easy to locate and identify.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Axons / physiology
  • Axons / ultrastructure
  • Drosophila melanogaster / anatomy & histology*
  • Female
  • Ganglia / anatomy & histology*
  • Ganglia / ultrastructure
  • Microscopy, Electron
  • Synapses / physiology
  • Synapses / ultrastructure
  • Thorax / anatomy & histology
  • Thorax / innervation