From embryo to adult: Persistent neurogenesis and apoptotic cell death shape the lobster deutocerebrum

Steffen Harzsch, Julie Miller, Jeannie Benton, Barbara Beltz

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118 Scopus citations


Neuronal plasticity and synaptic remodeling play important roles during the development of the invertebrate nervous system. In addition, structural neuroplasticity as a result of long-term environmental changes, behavioral modifications, age, and experience have been demonstrated in the brains of sexually mature insects. In adult vertebrates, persistent neurogenesis is found in the granule cell layer of the mammalian hippocampus and the subventricular zone, as well as in the telencephalon of songbirds, indicating that persistent neurogenesis, which is presumably related to plasticity and learning, may be an integral part of the normal biology of the mature brain. In decapod crustaceans, persistent neurogenesis among olfactory projection neurons is a common principle that shapes the adult brain, indicating a remarkable degree of life-long structural plasticity. The present study closes a gap in our knowledge of this phenomenon by describing the continuous cell proliferation and gradual displacement of proliferation domains in the central olfactory pathway of the American lobster Homarus americanus from early embryonic through larval and juvenile stages into adult life. Neurogenesis in the deutocerebrum was examined by the in vivo incorporation of bromodeoxyuridine, and development and structural maturation of the deutocerebral neuropils were studied using immunohistochemistry against Drosophila synapsin. The role of apoptotic cell death in shaping the developing deutocerebrum was studied using the terminal deoxynucleotidyl transferase-mediated biotinylated UTP nick end labeling method, combined with immunolabeling using an antiphospho histone H3 mitosis marker. Our results indicate that, in juvenile and adult lobsters, birth and death of olfactory interneurons occur in parallel, suggesting a turnover of these cells. When the persistent neurogenesis and concurrent death of interneurons in the central olfactory pathway of the crustacean brain are taken into account with the life-long turnover of olfactory receptor cells in crustacean antennules, a new, highly dynamic picture of olfaction in crustaceans emerges.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)3472-3485
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of Neuroscience
Issue number9
StatePublished - May 1 1999


  • Apoptosis
  • BrdU
  • Crustacea
  • Deutocerebrum
  • Homarus americanus
  • Neurogenesis
  • Phosphorylated histone H3
  • Plasticity
  • Synapsin

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)


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