Glial investment of the adult and developing antennal lobe of Drosophila

Lynne A. Oland, John P. Biebelhausen, Leslie P Tolbert

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

18 Scopus citations


In recent years the Drosophila olfactory system, with its unparalleled opportunities for genetic dissection of development and functional organization, has been used to study the development of central olfactory neurons and the molecular basis of olfactory coding. The results of these studies have been interpreted in the absence of a detailed understanding of the steps in maturation of glial cells in the antennal lobe. Here we present a high-resolution study of the glia associated with olfactory glomeruli in adult and developing antennal lobes. The study provides a basis for comparison of findings in Drosophila with those in the moth Manduca sexta that indicate a critical role for glia in antennal lobe development. Using flies expressing GFP under a Nervanal driver to visualize glia for confocal microscopy, and probing at higher resolution with the electron microscope, we find that glial development in Drosophila differs markedly from that in moths: glial cell bodies remain in a rind around the glomerular neuropil; glial processes ensheathe axon bundles in the nerve layer but likely contribute little to axonal sorting; their processes insinuate between glomeruli only very late and then form only a sparse, open network around each glomerulus; and glial processes invade the synaptic neuropil. Taking our results in the context of previous studies, we conclude that glial cells in the developing Drosophila antennal lobe are unlikely to play a strong role in either axonal sorting or glomerulus stabilization and that in the adult, glial processes do not electrically isolate glomeruli from their neighbors.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)526-550
Number of pages25
JournalJournal of Comparative Neurology
Issue number5
StatePublished - Aug 10 2008


  • Glial cells
  • Glomeruli
  • Olfactory bulb
  • Olfactory lobe

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)


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