Developmental changes in the structure and function of the central olfactory system in gregarious and solitary desert locusts

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Desert locusts are guided by olfactory cues in different behavioural contexts. In order to understand the basis for the variable olfactory guided behaviour displayed by different developmental stages and by solitary and gregarious locusts, we investigated their central olfactory system with neuroanatomical and neurophysiological methods. The primary olfactory centre of the brain, the antennal lobe (AL), increases in size during development due to an increased number and size of glomeruli. These glomeruli are innervated by a constant number of projection neurons that display increased dendritic arborizations during the development of the locust. The anatomical parameters do not differ between gregarious and solitary locusts, In parallel with the observed neuroanatomical changes, neurophysiological changes in response spectra and response specificity of AL neurons were found. During development, the percentage of neurons responding specifically to aggregation pheromone components decreases, whereas an increase in both pheromone-generalists and plant-pheromone generalist neurons is observed. The percentage of neurons responding to green leaf volatiles, however, remains constant. A decrease in the number of nymph blend-specific neurons was also observed. Our data show that anatomical and physiological properties of the AL and its neurons to a large extent reflect the changes in olfactory guided behaviour during development and between phases. The majority of our results are also in accordance with findings that the number of olfactory receptor neurons increases during development, resulting in increasing convergence on AL neurons.


  • Sylvia Anton
  • R Ignell
  • Bill S Hansson
External organisations
  • Lund University
Research areas and keywords

Subject classification (UKÄ) – MANDATORY

  • Ecology
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)281-291
JournalMicroscopy Research and Technique
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2002
Publication categoryResearch

Bibliographic note

The information about affiliations in this record was updated in December 2015. The record was previously connected to the following departments: Chemical Ecology/Ecotoxicology (Closed 2011) (011006020), Department of Ecology (Closed 2011) (011006010)