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Antennal sensory system of Periplaneta americana L.

Distribution and frequency of morphologic types of sensilla and their sex-specific changes during postembryonic development

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The morphology of the antennal hair-sensilla of Periplaneta americana, their distribution and frequency on the antennal flagellum have been examined by transmission and scanning-electron microscopy. The types of sensilla were distinguished with respect to physiologically relevant criteria such as wall structure and number of sensory cells. Among the sensilla of the antenna of the adult male, long, single-walled sensilla with four sensory cells (type sw B), probably responsible for reception of sexual pheromones, are most frequent, representing about 54% of the antennal sensilla. About half of these sensilla are newly-formed at the imaginai ecdysis; the other half are derived from the shorter type sw B sensilla of the nymphal antenna. Short type sw B sensilla are present in all larval stages of both sexes and in adult females as well. During the imaginal ecdysis of males, however, the length of these sensilla increases to double that found in nymphs. Dendritic branches also increase in number. During postembryonic development, the number of sensory fibers in the antennal flagellum increases nearly 20-fold, from 14,000 in the first larval instar to about 270,000 in the adult male. The greatest increase, approximately 90%, occurs during the last developmental stage.

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Correspondence to Dr. Dietlinde Schaller.

Additional information

Supported by the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (Al 56/6)

The author is greatly indebted to Prof. H. Altner for his support of this work, and to Mr. W.F. Colmers for his assistance with the English manuscript

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Schaller, D. Antennal sensory system of Periplaneta americana L.. Cell Tissue Res. 191, 121–139 (1978).

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Key words

  • Insect sensilla
  • Development
  • Sexual dimorphism
  • Antennal input
  • Periplaneta americana L.