Structure and development of antennae in a moth, Manduca sexta

Joshua R. Sanes, John G. Hildebrand

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

179 Scopus citations


The antenna of the moth, Manduca sexta, comprises two small basal segments and a long (2 cm) flagellum, which is divided into nearly 80 annuli. The annuli bear cuticular scales and small sensory organs, sensilla. A trachea, a blood vessel, and two nerve trunks run through the lumen of the antenna and into the head. Sensilla are arranged in an orderly pattern that is repeated on each flagellar annulus. Each flagellum bears about 105 sensilla, which contain about 2.5 × 105 primary sensory neurons. Clumps of undifferentiated cells (imaginal disks), present in the larva, form pupal antennae during the larval-pupal molt. During the subsequent metamorphic development of the adult, cell divisions, changes in cell shape, and cellular differentiation transform pupal into adult antennae. Sensilla and scales arise and differentiate in the antenna during metamorphosis; regions in which sensilla and scales will arise can be recognized before overt differentiation occurs. All of the flagellar annuli develop synchronously. The dense innervation and neuronal simplicity of antennal flagella, as well as their synchronous development at a late and accessible stage in the animal's life cycle, suit them for studies of neuronal differentiation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)282-299
Number of pages18
JournalDevelopmental biology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jul 15 1976

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Biology
  • Developmental Biology
  • Cell Biology


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