An insect-like mushroom body in a crustacean brain

Gabriella Hannah Wolff, Hanne Halkinrud Thoen, Justin Marshall, Marcel E. Sayre, Nicholas James Strausfeld

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

33 Scopus citations


Mushroom bodies are the iconic learning and memory centers of insects. No previously described crustacean possesses a mushroom body as defined by strict morphological criteria although crustacean centers called hemiellipsoid bodies, which serve functions in sensory integration, have been viewed as evolutionarily convergent with mushroom bodies. Here, using key identifiers to characterize neural arrangements, we demonstrate insect-like mushroom bodies in stomatopod crustaceans (mantis shrimps). More than any other crustacean taxon, mantis shrimps display sophisticated behaviors relating to predation, spatial memory, and visual recognition comparable to those of insects. However, neuroanatomy-based cladistics suggesting close phylogenetic proximity of insects and stomatopod crustaceans conflicts with genomic evidence showing hexapods closely related to simple crustaceans called remipedes. We discuss whether corresponding anatomical phenotypes described here reflect the cerebral morphology of a common ancestor of Pancrustacea or an extraordinary example of convergent evolution.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere29889
StatePublished - Sep 26 2017


  • Neogonodactylus oerstedii
  • Pancrustacea
  • Stomatopoda
  • evolution
  • mushroom body
  • neural organization
  • neuroscience

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)
  • Immunology and Microbiology(all)
  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)


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