It is estimated that 97 per cent of animal species (1 200 000) are invertebrates and 78 per cent are insects. Yet most biochemical research on cholinergic transmission has been conducted on vertebrates. There are obvious advantages to studying the invertebrate nervous system. It has simpler cellular organisation and clearly identifiable neurones, which allow for the investigation and understanding of the basic principles of neurotransmission and neuronal integration of signals. Also, the availability of anatomical, physiological and pharmacological data on certain neurones, whose regulation of certain behaviours is known (such as learning in the marine snail Aplysia (Kandel, 1979) and in the American cockroach Periplaneta americana (Sattelle et al., 1983), and food aversion learning in the terrestrial mollusc Limax maximus (Kelly, 1981)) provides information on the basic mechanisms that underlie these behaviours. Furthermore, the Genetics of an insect, Drosophila, are the best studied of all animal species, which makes possible the systematic and direct generation of single gene mutants, selection of the relevant ones and identification and isolation of the altered gene and its product. The mutation can be mapped accurately in the chromosome and cloned using recombinant DNA technology. The availability of behavioural mutants in Drosophila may help elucidate the nature of the macromolecular components involved in neurochemical mechanisms and their role in normal behaviour.


Acetylcholine Receptor Muscarinic Receptor Nicotinic Receptor Horseshoe Crab Choline Receptor 
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© G.G. Lunt and R.W. Olsen 1988

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