›› 2010, Vol. 53 ›› Issue (12): 1419-1423.

• RESEARCH PAPERS • Previous Articles     Next Articles

Using confocal microscopy to study sexually dimorphic antennal lobes in insects

LI Jiang-Hui, CHEN Qi-Yu, CHEN Xi, WANG Ya-Hong, DU Yong-Jun   

  • Online:2011-01-28 Published:2010-12-20
  • Contact: DU Yong-Jun


Aim To study the sexually dimorphic antennal lobes (AL) of three insects from Lepidoptera, Blattaria, and Coleoptera. Methods The whole brains of female and male Spodoptera litura, Periplaneta americana, and Monochamus alternatus were dissected, stained with a fluorescent dye, fixed, and dehydrated, and then the structure of AL was scanned by using confocal microscopy. Results The results indicate that the macroglomerular complex (MGC), a specialized region in the AL for processing sex pheromones, is present in the males of all three species, but absent in the females. The size of the antennal lobe of these three insects varies considerably, with a measured depth of 130 μm, 235 μm and 115 μm, respectively. The number of glomeruli of these three species was 35, 59 and 39, respectively. Conclusion The technology of laser confocal scanning is an effective way to observe the structure of the antennal lobe of insects, and the results show a proof of concept for a larger investigation on the structure and function of antennal lobes across different orders.

Key words: Insect, brain neuron, antennal lobe, glomerulus, sexual dimorphism, laser confocal scanning microscope