The segmental ganglia of the locust contain efferent neuromodulatory neurones with cell bodies at the dorsal midline and axons that supply muscles and other tissue on both sides of the body. These are the dorsal unpaired median (DUM) neurones. Intracellular recordings were made from pairs of known metathoracic efferent DUM neurones in locusts in which all nerves were intact and in isolated metathoracic ganglia. The 19 metathoracic, efferent DUM neurones were identified according to the nerve roots through which their axons emerge from the ganglion. The synaptic potentials in these DUM neurones have been analysed to investigate how these neurones are activated and how their spikes are controlled. The degree of correlation between the synaptic potentials in particular pairs of neurones was quantified using a correlation analysis. This allowed the population of DUM neurones to be divided into three subsets that also map onto an anatomical grouping based on the distribution of their axons in the lateral nerves: (i) DUM1 neurones (DUMDL and DUM1b); (ii) DUM3 and DUM3,4 neurones; and (iii) DUM3,4,5, DUM5b neurones and DUMETi. Individual neurones within each subset showed strong correlations between their synaptic potentials, in both intact locusts and isolated ganglia, and tended to spike at the same time. Neurones in different subsets had few synaptic potentials in common and tended to spike independently. The persistence of common synaptic potentials in neurones of the three subsets in isolated ganglia indicates that they are derived from neurones within the metathoracic ganglion. The DUM neurones that had many common synaptic potentials in a quiescent locust responded in similar ways to mechanosensory stimulation of different parts of the body. DUM3,4, 5 and DUM5 neurones gave the clearest and most consistent responses to stimulation of mechanoreceptors on either hind leg. DUM3 and DUM3, 4 neurones responded variably, but usually with a hyperpolarisation. DUM1 neurones were rarely excited by mechanosensory stimuli but, like the preceding group, their responses were dependent upon whether the locust was moving its legs. These results lend further support to the idea that there is a subdivision of action amongst this population of DUM neurones, with those supplying the same targets being driven by the same presynaptic local neurones.
- Copyright © 1998 The Company of Biologists Ltd.