The optic neuropiles and chiasmata of Crustacea

  • Rolf Elofsson
  • Erik Dahl


On the basis of ontogeny and adult morphology, an interpretation of the arrangement of optic neuropiles and fibre connexions of the Crustacean compound eye is presented. In the embryo of phyllopods and decapods, the ommatidia, the lamina ganglionaris, and the medulla externa are developed synchronously from a common medial proliferation zone. As this zone persists in all investigated adult Crustacea that possess compound eyes, such a derivation of the mentioned structures is taken to be universal within the group. The direction of growth of the lamina ganglionaris is parallel with the row of ommatidia, the growth direction of the medulla externa is perpendicular to it and parallel with the long axis of the eyestalk. This arrangement is more or less retained in most adult non-Malacostracan Crustacea, and the axons of fully developed neurons pierce the optic neuropiles and leave and enter on the neuropile side. As a result, there is no chiasma in the non-Malacostracan groups.

The Malacostraca have an extra neuropile, the medulla interna, derived from the medulla terminalis. Chiasmata occur between the lamina ganglionaris and the medulla externa, and between the medulla externa and the medulla interna. This difference from the non-Malacostracans depends on the course of the fibres. Those coming from the lamina ganglionaris leave the lamina on the neuropile side and enter medulla externa between the cell bodies in the perikaryon layer of the medulla externa neurons and the neuropile of the medulla. The fibres from the medulla externa to the lamina come from T-shaped neurons and emanate from the perikaryon layer side, entering the lamina on its neuropile side. The fibre relations between the medulla externa and the medulla interna are similar. Thus in both cases, chiasmata are present from the beginning, but they become obvious when the medulla externa rotates through part of a circle.

The directed growth of the optic neuropiles and the course of the fibre connexions are consequently crucial to the understanding of the topographic relations between the neuropiles. A pattern with short neurons connecting neighbouring optic neuropiles and long neurons connecting the medulla externa with the central nervous system is common to all crustaceans.


Compound Eyes Crustacea Optic Neuropiles Chiasmata 


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 1970

Authors and Affiliations

  • Rolf Elofsson
    • 1
  • Erik Dahl
    • 1
  1. 1.Zoological InstituteUniversity of LundLundSweden

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