The developing indirect flight muscles of pharate moths are characterized by a rhythmic discharge of a long bout of flight-pattern-like muscle potentials in the absence of contractions. The electrical activity of the dorsal longitudinal flight muscles (DLMs) in the silkmoth, Bombyx mori, was discernible as a cluster of many series of muscle potentials that last for several minutes on day 4 of the pupal period. The duration of the active phases and the period of rhythmic activity gradually increased to a peak value on day 7 or 8 and then declined until the end of the pupal period. Mean duration of the active phases (±SD) and the mean period of the rhythmic activity (±SD) at the peak were 38.7±8.7 min and 74.5±7.3 min, respectively. The rhythmic electrical activity of immature DLMs was closely coordinated with the rhythmic (bursting) activity of a population of neurosecretory cells that are known to produce pheromone-biosynthesis activating neuropeptide (PBAN) and its related peptides, which belong to the multifunctional peptide family, pyrokinin/PBAN. The DLMs always became active a few minutes after the neurosecretory cells, and the timing of onset of these two activities appeared to be strictly regulated by a neural mechanism. The implication of the coordinated activity for development and maturation of imaginal tissues, including the flight motor system, and possible functions of the neuropeptides in this development are discussed.
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