This article is part of the Research Topic Plasticity in the sensory systems of invertebrates

Original Research ARTICLE

Front. Physiol., 23 August 2013 | doi: 10.3389/fphys.2012.00367

Quantification of dendritic and axonal growth after injury to the auditory system of the adult cricket Gryllus bimaculatus

  • 1Department of Invertebrate Zoology, American Museum of Natural History, New York, NY, USA
  • 2Department of Biology, Bowdoin College, Brunswick, ME, USA

Dendrite and axon growth and branching during development are regulated by a complex set of intracellular and external signals. However, the cues that maintain or influence adult neuronal morphology are less well understood. Injury and deafferentation tend to have negative effects on adult nervous systems. An interesting example of injury-induced compensatory growth is seen in the cricket, Gryllus bimaculatus. After unilateral loss of an ear in the adult cricket, auditory neurons within the central nervous system (CNS) sprout to compensate for the injury. Specifically, after being deafferented, ascending neurons (AN-1 and AN-2) send dendrites across the midline of the prothoracic ganglion where they receive input from auditory afferents that project through the contralateral auditory nerve (N5). Deafferentation also triggers contralateral N5 axonal growth. In this study, we quantified AN dendritic and N5 axonal growth at 30 h, as well as at 3, 5, 7, 14, and 20 days after deafferentation in adult crickets. Significant differences in the rates of dendritic growth between males and females were noted. In females, dendritic growth rates were non-linear; a rapid burst of dendritic extension in the first few days was followed by a plateau reached at 3 days after deafferentation. In males, however, dendritic growth rates were linear, with dendrites growing steadily over time and reaching lengths, on average, twice as long as in females. On the other hand, rates of N5 axonal growth showed no significant sexual dimorphism and were linear. Within each animal, the growth rates of dendrites and axons were not correlated, indicating that independent factors likely influence dendritic and axonal growth in response to injury in this system. Our findings provide a basis for future study of the cellular features that allow differing dendrite and axon growth patterns as well as sexually dimorphic dendritic growth in response to deafferentation.

Keywords: sexual dimorphism, anatomical plasticity, midline guidance

Citation: Pfister A, Johnson A, Ellers O and Horch HW (2013) Quantification of dendritic and axonal growth after injury to the auditory system of the adult cricket Gryllus bimaculatus. Front. Physiol. 3:367. doi: 10.3389/fphys.2012.00367

Received: 17 May 2012; Accepted: 27 August 2012;
Published online: 23 August 2013.

Edited by:

Elzbieta M. Pyza, Jagiellonian University, Poland

Reviewed by:

Ansgar Buschges, University of Cologne, Germany
Ralf Heinrich, University of Göttingen, Germany
Maria F. Ceriani, Fundación Instituto Leloir, Argentina

Copyright © 2013 Pfister, Johnson, Ellers and Horch. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY). The use, distribution or reproduction in other forums is permitted, provided the original author(s) or licensor are credited and that the original publication in this journal is cited, in accordance with accepted academic practice. No use, distribution or reproduction is permitted which does not comply with these terms.

*Correspondence: Hadley W. Horch, Departments of Biology and Neuroscience, Bowdoin College, 6500 College Station, Brunswick, ME 04011, USA e-mail:

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