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Brain anatomy in Diplura (Hexapoda)

Alexander Böhm*, Nikolaus U Szucsich and Günther Pass

Author Affiliations

Department of Evolutionary Biology, University of Vienna, Althanstrasse 14, 1090 Vienna, Austria

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Frontiers in Zoology 2012, 9:26  doi:10.1186/1742-9994-9-26

Published: 11 October 2012



In the past decade neuroanatomy has proved to be a valuable source of character systems that provide insights into arthropod relationships. Since the most detailed description of dipluran brain anatomy dates back to Hanström (1940) we re-investigated the brains of Campodea augens and Catajapyx aquilonaris with modern neuroanatomical techniques. The analyses are based on antibody staining and 3D reconstruction of the major neuropils and tracts from semi-thin section series.


Remarkable features of the investigated dipluran brains are a large central body, which is organized in nine columns and three layers, and well developed mushroom bodies with calyces receiving input from spheroidal olfactory glomeruli in the deutocerebrum. Antibody staining against a catalytic subunit of protein kinase A (DC0) was used to further characterize the mushroom bodies. The japygid Catajapyx aquilonaris possesses mushroom bodies which are connected across the midline, a unique condition within hexapods.


Mushroom body and central body structure shows a high correspondence between japygids and campodeids. Some unique features indicate that neuroanatomy further supports the monophyly of Diplura. In a broader phylogenetic context, however, the polarization of brain characters becomes ambiguous. The mushroom bodies and the central body of Diplura in several aspects resemble those of Dicondylia, suggesting homology. In contrast, Archaeognatha completely lack mushroom bodies and exhibit a central body organization reminiscent of certain malacostracan crustaceans. Several hypotheses of brain evolution at the base of the hexapod tree are discussed.

Diplura; two-pronged bristletails; mushroom body; central body; 3D reconstruction; CNS; DC0; apterygote insects