While the central ganglia of gastropod molluscs have been studied extensively, relatively little is known about the organization and functions of the peripheral nervous system in these animals. In the present study, we used immunohistochemical procedures to examine the innervation of the rhinophores, oral tentacles and region around the mouth of the aeolid nudibranch, Phestilla sibogae. Serotonin-like immunoreactivity was found in an extensive network of efferent projections apparently originating from central neurons, but was not detected within any peripheral cell bodies. In contrast, large numbers of peripheral, and presumably sensory, somata exhibited reactivity to an antibody raised against tyrosine hydroxylase (the enzyme catalyzing the initial step in the conversion of tyrosine into the catecholamines). Additional tyrosine hydroxylase-like immunoreactivity was detected in afferent fibers of the peripheral cells and in several cells within the rhinophoral ganglia. The presence of serotonin, dopamine and norepinephrine in the rhinophores, tentacles and central ganglia was confirmed using high-performance liquid chromatography. Finally, FMRFamide-like immunoreactivity was detected in cells and tangles of fibers found within the rhinophore, possibly revealing glomerulus-like structures along olfactory pathways. FMRFamide-like immunoreactivity was also found in somata of the rhinophoral ganglia, in a small number of cells located in the body wall lateral to the tentacles and in what appeared to be varicose terminals of efferent projections to the periphery. Together, these results indicate several new features of the gastropod peripheral nervous system and suggest future experiments that will elucidate the function of the novel cells and innervation patterns described here.
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