Axons navigate to their targets by detecting signals within the environment through which they are growing. The surfaces of tracheae, which are prominent features of the insect body plan, could be detected as favorable pathways for sensory axons growing toward the brain. The pattern of the tracheal investment of the adult antennal lobe of the moth Manduca sexta suggested two specific possibilities for interaction between tracheae and axons during development: That tracheae might be involved in guiding olfactory receptor axons to their target region of the brain, the antennal lobe; and that tracheae could provide an address system within the lobe that defines the sites of glomeruli, which are olfactory-axon target areas within the lobe. To determine whether tracheae contribute to development of the primary olfactory pathway, the distribution of tracheae in the adult and developing antennal lobes was examined with both confocal and electron microscopes. During the major stages in which axons are growing into the antennal lobe and in which glomeruli are forming, the tracheal investment of the nerve and lobe was found to be minimal. Tracheae thus cannot serve as axon guides or as local address sites for newly forming glomeruli during the initial targeting of receptors onto the antennal lobe.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
- Developmental Biology
- Insect Science