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Calcium Imaging of Auditory Organ Activity in Insects

Calcium Imaging of Auditory Organ Activity in Insects

Supervisors: Dr Berthold Hedwig

Project summary:

Acoustic communication is wide spread among insects. However, very little is understood how neuronal activity is generated in the pool of afferent neurons within the hearing organs, which contributes to intensity coding and frequency processing. This is due to the problems of recording such activity of afferent neurons with electrophysiological methods.

We recently developed a new method to iontophoretically inject permanent anatomical dyes and/or Ca-sensitive tracers into the peripheral nervous supplying the hearing organs of insects. This method will be refined and used to load the afferent neurons within the hearing organ as well as their central axonal projections with a calcium sensitive tracer. 

 

What the student will be doing:

The method will be applied in insects like bushcrickets, crickets, or grasshoppers. After labeling the auditory pathway, the insect will be placed under an optical imaging system and sound stimuli will be used to explore the representation of acoustic signals, i.e. intensity and frequency, in the hearing organ and in the central auditory neuropils by measuring the sound evoked changes in the optical Ca2+ signals.

Training will be provided in the use of the new dye labelling technique, calcium imaging and electrophysiological recording techniques. 

 

References:

Baden, T and Hedwig B (2007). Neurite specific Ca2+ dynamics underlying sound processing in an auditory interneuron. J Neurobiol 67: 68-80

Isaacson MD and Hedwig B. (2017) Neuroanatomical and functional labeling by tracer electrophoresis through the nerve sheath. Scientific Reports, 7:40433, DOI: 10.1038/srep40433.