Neuronal Responses to Water Flow in the Marine Slug Tritonia diomedea

University of Central Arkansas

The marine slug Tritonia diomedea must rely on its ability to touch and smell in order to navigate because it is blind. The primary factor that influences its crawling direction is the direction of water flow (caused by tides in nature). The sensory cells that detect flow and determine flow direction have not been identified. The lateral branch of Cerebral Nerve 2 (latCeN2) has been identified as the nerve that carries sensory axons to the brain from the flow receptors inthe oral tentacles. Backfilling this nerve to the brain resulted in the labeling of a number of cells located throughout the brain. Most of the labeled cells are concentrated in the cerebral ganglion where the nerve enters the brain. The medial and lateral branches of CeN2 were backfilled for comparison of the pattern of cells from each nerve. A map of the cells innervated by latCeN2 reveals the location of the stained cells. Extracellular recording from latCeN2 revealed its involvement in the detection of water flow and orientation. The nerve becomes active in response to water flow stimulation. Intracellular recordings of the electrical activity of these cells in a live animal will be the next step to determine if these cells are the flow receptors.

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