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Cell and Tissue Research

, Volume 348, Issue 1, pp 47–69 | Cite as

Comparative brain architecture of the European shore crab Carcinus maenas (Brachyura) and the common hermit crab Pagurus bernhardus (Anomura) with notes on other marine hermit crabs

  • Jakob KriegerEmail author
  • Andy Sombke
  • Florian Seefluth
  • Matthes Kenning
  • Bill S. Hansson
  • Steffen Harzsch
Regular Article

Abstract

The European shore crab Carcinus maenas and the common hermit crab Pagurus bernhardus are members of the sister taxa Brachyura and Anomura (together forming the taxon Meiura) respectively. Both species share similar coastal marine habitats and thus are confronted with similar environmental conditions. This study sets out to explore variations of general brain architecture of species that live in seemingly similar habitats but belong to different major malacostracan taxa and to understand possible differences of sensory systems and related brain compartments. We examined the brains of Carcinus maenas, Pagurus bernhardus, and three other hermit crab species with immunohistochemistry against tyrosinated tubulin, f-actin, synaptic proteins, RF-amides and allatostatin. Our comparison showed that their optic neuropils within the eyestalks display strong resemblance in gross morphology as well as in detailed organization, suggesting a rather similar potential of processing visual input. Besides the well-developed visual system, the olfactory neuropils are distinct components in the brain of both C. maenas and P. bernhardus as well as the other hermit crabs, suggesting that close integration of olfactory and visual information may be useful in turbid marine environments with low visibility, as is typical for many habitats such as, e.g., the Baltic and the North Sea. Comparing the shape of the olfactory glomeruli in the anomurans showed some variations, ranging from a wedge shape to an elongate morphology. Furthermore, the tritocerebrum and the organization of the second antennae associated with the tritocerebrum seem to differ markedly in C. maenas and P. bernhardus, indicating better mechanosensory abilities in the latter close to those of other Decapoda with long second antennae, such as Astacida, Homarida, or Achelata. This aspect may also represent an adaptation to the “hermit lifestyle” in which competition for shells is a major aspect of their life history. The shore crab C. maenas, on the other hand seems to rely much less on mechanosensory information mediated by the second antennae but in water, the visual and the olfactory senses seem to be the most important modalities.

Keywords

Nervous system Crustaceans Immunohistochemistry Neuroanatomy Olfaction 

Notes

Acknowledgements

We are indepted to Erich Buchner (Würzburg) for the kind provision of the SYNORF1 synapsin antibody. We wish to thank Hans Agricola (Friedrich Schiller University Jena) for the allatostatin antiserum and Verena Rieger (Greifswald) for providing the photograph of Carcinus maenas. The authors are grateful for the assistance of Gilles Maron and Franck Gentil at the Station Biologique de Roscoff in France for provision of Pagurus bernhardus and for their general support. We would like to express our gratitude to Guido Dehnhardt and the staff of the Marine Science Center in Rostock for free provision of diving equipment and the permission to sample Carcinus maenas on-site. We cordially thank C. H. G. Müller (Greifswald) for providing specimens of the marine anomurans of the Mediterranean Calcinus tubularis, Clibanarius eythropus and Diogenes pugilator from the island of Ibiza. David C. Sandeman is acknowledged for kindly commenting on this paper.

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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jakob Krieger
    • 1
    Email author
  • Andy Sombke
    • 1
  • Florian Seefluth
    • 1
  • Matthes Kenning
    • 1
  • Bill S. Hansson
    • 2
  • Steffen Harzsch
    • 1
    • 2
  1. 1.Zoological Institute and Museum, Department of Cytology and Evolutionary BiologyUniversity of GreifswaldGreifswaldGermany
  2. 2.Department of Evolutionary NeuroethologyMax Planck Institute for Chemical EcologyJenaGermany

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