Retinotopic order of optic axons in the optic nerve and superior colliculus of the marsupial mammal, the wallaby (Macropus eugenii), has been examined and compared during development of the retinocollicular projection to investigate the role of order in the nerve in map formation. Small groups of axons from different retinal quadrants were labelled in vivo with a carbocyanine dye from just after axons first reached the colliculus to when the projection was mature. The distribution and branching patterns of axons and their arbors on the colliculus were assessed quantitatively during this period, as was the degree of order in the nerve. Initially, axons accumulated in coarse retinotopic order in the colliculus, with little branching and no sign of arborization to form terminal zones. Axons labelled from deposits covering a mean of 2.2% of the retina reached a mean collicular coverage of around 30% at 41–47 days, at which time they began arborizing in their retinotopically correct positions. By 55 days axons from all retinal quadrants had formed terminal zones in their retinotopically correct positions. Axons did not arborise in incorrect positions as has been reported in the rat. By 61–68 days coverage had decreased to around 10%. By 90–95 days only axons suppying terminal zones were present and terminal zones were smaller. In the nerve, axons showed a coarse and consistent order throughout development. This order was retinotopic only immediately behind the eye. Temporal and nasal axons occupied corresponding halves of the nerve along its course. Axons from dorsal and ventral retina shifted from dorsal and ventral positions in the nerve, respectively, to opposite sides of the nerve just before the chiasm. This would assist in positioning them in the appropriate lateral and medial optic tracts, respectively, in the positions they occupied as they approached the colliculus. However, the position in the nerve was not related to the ability to arborize in the correct collicular position. In particular, the increase in retinotopic order in the colliculus late in development was not accompanied by an increase in order in the nerve. Since the final organization in the colliculus shows greater order than is ever seen in the nerve, additional mechanisms must be involved in the maturation of the collicular map.
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Accepted: 17 May 1997
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Ding, Y., Marotte, L. Retinotopic order in the optic nerve and superior colliculus during development of the retinocollicular projection in the wallaby (Macropus eugenii). Anat Embryol 196, 141–158 (1997). https://doi.org/10.1007/s004290050087
- Key words Mammal