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Neuroscience. 1983 May;9(1):183-9.

Presence of octopamine in firefly photomotor neurons.


Various tissues involved in producing luminescence in larval fireflies (Photuris versicolor) were examined for the presence of octopamine. These tissues included the terminal abdominal ganglion (A8) which innervates the paired lantern organs, the cell bodies of the photomotor neurons and the isolated larval lanterns. A previous study has identified the 4 motoneurons arising from A8 which bilaterally innervate the paired larval lanterns through symmetrical axons existing both sides of the ganglion. Individual photomotor neuron somata were isolated, pooled and found to contain about 0.03 pmol/soma giving an effective concentration of 2.8 mM octopamine. Significant amounts of octopamine were also found within the peripheral effector tissue. The presence of octopamine throughout the luminescence-producing pathway further supports the hypothesis that octopamine serves a neurotransmitter function in firefly bioluminescence. In this system, it appears that octopamine serves a more direct role as a neurotransmitter that that postulated for its modulatory and hormonal functions in other arthropod systems. Furthermore, the bioluminescent response of the larval firefly lantern provides a useful dynamic system to study the physiology, pharmacology and biochemistry of octopaminergic transmission.

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