Cell Tissue Res (1989) 258:441-475

The optic lobe of Drosophila melanogaster I. A Golgi analysis of wild-type structure

K.-F. Fischbach (1) and A.P.M. Dittrich (2)

(1) Institut für Biologie III, Freiburg Federal Republic of Germany :
(2) Institut für Genetik und Mikrobiologie Würzburg, Federal Republic of Germany


Golgi studies of the neurons in the optic lobes of Drosophila melanogaster reveal a large number of neuronal cell types. These can be classified as either columnar or tangential. Columnar elements establish the retinotopic maps of the lamina, medulla, and lobula-complex neuropiles. They are classified according to the position of their cell bodies, the number, width, and level of their arborizations, and their projection areas. Tangential elements are oriented perpendicularly to the columns. The arborizations of different tangential neurons are restricted to different layers of the optic neuropiles, within such layers their dendritic fields may span the entire retinotopic field or only part of it. The abundance of cell types inside each of the columnar units of the optic lobe is discussed with regard to its possible functional significance. By means of their stratified arborizations the columnar neurons form what appear to be multiple sets of retinotopically organized parallel information processing networks. It is suggested that these parallel networks filter different kinds of visual information and thus represent structurally separated functional subunits of the optic lobe. Such a parallel organization of visual functions increases the sites for function-specific gene actions and may explain the behavioral phenotypes of recently isolated structural mutants of the optic lobe.

Key words: Optic lobe Neuronal cell types Structural mutants Drosophila melanogaster (Insecta)

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