Every year, millions of Australian Bogong moths (Agrotis infusa) complete an astonishing journey: In Spring, they migrate over 1,000 km from their breeding grounds to the alpine regions of the Snowy Mountains, where they endure the hot summer in the cool climate of alpine caves. In autumn, the moths return to their breeding grounds, where they mate, lay eggs and die. These moths can use visual cues in combination with the geomagnetic field to guide their flight, but how these cues are processed and integrated into the brain to drive migratory behavior is unknown. To generate an access point for functional studies, we provide a detailed description of the Bogong moth's brain. Based on immunohistochemical stainings against synapsin and serotonin (5HT), we describe the overall layout as well as the fine structure of all major neuropils, including the regions that have previously been implicated in compass-based navigation. The resulting average brain atlas consists of 3D reconstructions of 25 separate neuropils, comprising the most detailed account of a moth brain to date. Our results show that the Bogong moth brain follows the typical lepidopteran ground pattern, with no major specializations that can be attributed to their spectacular migratory lifestyle. These findings suggest that migratory behavior does not require widespread modifications of brain structure, but might be achievable via small adjustments of neural circuitry in key brain areas. Locating these subtle changes will be a challenging task for the future, for which our study provides an essential anatomical framework.
Bibliografisk informationThis work was funded by the European Union (EU) and the Horizon 2020 program: European Research Council (ERC) Advanced Grant MagneticMoth (grant no. 741298) and Starting Grant BrainInBrain (grant no. 714599).