Projection patterns and target tissues of the serotonergic cells in larval Aplysia californica

René Marois, Thomas J. Carew

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Although the functions of serotonin in adult Aplysia have been the focus of numerous investigations, our understanding of the roles played by this neurotransmitter during development is very incomplete. In the previous study (Marois and Carew [1997a] J. Comp. Neurol. 386:477-490), we showed that identified serotenergic cells are present very early during the ontogeny of Aplysia. In order to gain insight into the possible functions that these serotonergic cells may exert, we have used immuno-electron microscopy in this study to examine the projection patterns and target tissues of the serotonergic cells during the larval development of Aplysia. The results indicate that the larval serotonergic cells have numerous and precise connections to non-neuronal and neuronal target tissues: Serotonergic cells innervate the ciliated cells of the velum, numerous muscle systems, possibly visceral organs, and several cells in the central nervous system. Repeated observations of one serotonergic contact onto an undifferentiated neuron in the abdominal ganglion over a short developmental time span suggest that the seretonergic input may trigger axonogenesis in the postsynaptic cell. Apart from this possibility, we suggest that the innervation patterns of the larval serotonergic cells essentially fulfill the same primary function attributed to the adult serotonergic cells, that of modulating ongoing physiological and behavioral activity.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)491-506
Number of pages16
JournalJournal of Comparative Neurology
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 29 1997


  • Differentiation
  • Electron microscopy
  • Immunocytochemistry
  • Mollusc
  • Synapse

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Neuroscience


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