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Zoolog Sci. 2005 Jul;22(7):743-53.

Postembryonic development of the mushroom bodies in the ant, Camponotus japonicus.

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Life Science, Tokyo Gakugei University, Tokyo, Japan.


Mushroom bodies (MB) are insect brain centers involved in learning and other complex behaviors and they are particularly large in ants. We describe the larval and pupal development of the MB in the carpenter ant, Camponotus japonicus. Based on morphological cues, we characterized the stages of preimaginal development of worker ants. We then describe morphological changes and neurogenesis underlying the MB development. Kenyon cells are produced in a proliferation cluster formed by symmetrical division of MB neuroblasts. While the duration of larval instars shows great individual variation, MB neuroblasts increase in number in each successive larval instar. The number of neuroblasts increases further during prepupal stages and peaks during early pupal stages. It decreases rapidly, and then neurogenesis generally ceases during the mid pupal stage (P4). In contrast to the larval period, the MB development of individuals is highly synchronized with physical time throughout metamorphosis. We show that carpenter ants (C. japonicus) have approximately half as many MB neuroblasts than are found in the honey bee Apis mellifera. Mature MBs of carpenter ants and honey bees reportedly comprise almost the same number of neurons. We therefore suggest that the MB neuroblasts in C. japonicus divide more often in order to produce a final number of MB neurons similar to that of honey bees.

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