Neurophysiological Studies of Flight-Related Density-Dependent Phase Characteristics in Locusts


Locusts show an extreme example of density-dependent phase polymorphism, demonstrating within the species differences in morphology as well as biology, dependent on the population density. Behavior is the primary density-dependent change which facilitates the appearance of various morphological and physiological phase characteristics. We have studied density dependent differences in flight related sensory and central neural elements in the desert locust Schistocerca gregaria. Wind generated high frequency spiking activity in the tritocerebral commissure giant (TCG, an identified interneuron that relay inputs from head hair receptors to thoracic motor centers) that was much less intense in solitary locusts, compared to gregarious ones. In addition the solitary locusts’ TCG demonstrated much stronger adaptation of its response. In cases when flight was initiated high frequency TCG activity was independent of the locust phase. The tritocerebral commissure dwarf (TCD) is a GABAergic flight related interneuron that is sensitive to ambient illumination intensity. An increase in the TCD spontaneous activity under dark vs. light conditions was significantly higher in gregarious locusts then in solitary ones, implying a flight-related inhibitory mechanism that is far more active in gregarious locusts under dark conditions. Thus, density-dependent phase differences in interneuron activity pattern and properties well reflect and may be at least partially responsible to behavioral flight-related characteristics.


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Correspondence to A. Ayali.

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Presented at the 10th ISIN Symposium on Invertebrate Neurobiology, July 5–9, 2003, Tihany, Hungary.

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Ayali, A., Fuchs, E. & Kutsch, W. Neurophysiological Studies of Flight-Related Density-Dependent Phase Characteristics in Locusts. BIOLOGIA FUTURA 55, 137–141 (2004).

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  • Interneuron
  • TCG
  • flight
  • locust