The shared organization of three optic lobe neuropils-the lamina, medulla, and lobula-linked by chiasmata has been used to support arguments that insects and malacostracans are sister groups. However, in certain insects, the lobula is accompanied by a tectum-like fourth neuropil, the lobula plate, characterized by wide-field tangential neurons and linked to the medulla by uncrossed axons. The identification of a lobula plate in an isopod crustacean raises the question of whether the lobula plate of insects and isopods evolved convergently or are derived from a common ancestor. This question is here investigated by comparisons of insect and crustacean optic lobes. The basal branchiopod crustacean Triops has only two visual neuropils and no optic chiasma. This finding contrasts with the phyllocarid Nebalia pugettensis, a basal malacostracan whose lamina is linked by a chiasma to a medulla that is linked by a second chiasma to a retinotopic outswelling of the lateral protocerebrum, called the protolobula. In Nebalia, uncrossed axons from the medulla supply a minute fourth optic neuropil. Eumalacostracan crustaceans also possess two deep neuropils, one receiving crossed axons, the other uncrossed axons. However, in primitive insects, there is no separate fourth optic neuropil. Malacostracans and insects also differ in that the insect medulla comprises two nested neuropils separated by a layer of axons, called the Cuccati bundle. Comparisons suggest that neuroarchitectures of the lamina and medulla distal to the Cuccati bundle are equivalent to the eumalacostracan lamina and entire medulla. The occurrence of a second optic chiasma and protolobula are suggested to be synapomorphic for a malacostracan/insect clade.
- Optic lobes
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