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Front Syst Neurosci. 2010 Mar 18;4:7. doi: 10.3389/fnsys.2010.00007. eCollection 2010.

3D-Reconstructions and Virtual 4D-Visualization to Study Metamorphic Brain Development in the Sphinx Moth Manduca Sexta.

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Department of Biology, Animal Physiology, Philipps-University Marburg Marburg, Germany.


DURING METAMORPHOSIS, THE TRANSITION FROM THE LARVA TO THE ADULT, THE INSECT BRAIN UNDERGOES CONSIDERABLE REMODELING: new neurons are integrated while larval neurons are remodeled or eliminated. One well acknowledged model to study metamorphic brain development is the sphinx moth Manduca sexta. To further understand mechanisms involved in the metamorphic transition of the brain we generated a 3D standard brain based on selected brain areas of adult females and 3D reconstructed the same areas during defined stages of pupal development. Selected brain areas include for example mushroom bodies, central complex, antennal- and optic lobes. With this approach we eventually want to quantify developmental changes in neuropilar architecture, but also quantify changes in the neuronal complement and monitor the development of selected neuronal populations. Furthermore, we used a modeling software (Cinema 4D) to create a virtual 4D brain, morphing through its developmental stages. Thus the didactical advantages of 3D visualization are expanded to better comprehend complex processes of neuropil formation and remodeling during development. To obtain datasets of the M. sexta brain areas, we stained whole brains with an antiserum against the synaptic vesicle protein synapsin. Such labeled brains were then scanned with a confocal laser scanning microscope and selected neuropils were reconstructed with the 3D software AMIRA 4.1.


Manduca; animation; brain; development; digital neuroanatomy; insect; neuropil

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