An immunocytochemical study using an FXPRLamide antiserum revealed three clusters of neurosecretory cells along the midline of the subesophageal ganglion of the mealworm beetle, Tenebrio obscurus. Firing activity of five pairs of neurosecretory cells in the mandibular and maxillary clusters was recorded from an axonal tract of the cells throughout the entire pupal period. The population of neurosecretory cells became active during the middle and late pupal periods, and they usually discharged clusters of action potentials at an interval of 30–90 min. The ultradian activity rhythm of the cells in T. obscurus was related to a periodic discharge of electrical activity in developing flight muscles, as has been observed in the homologous cells in the silkmoth, Bombyx mori. Furthermore, the rhythmic activity of the neurosecretory cells in the mealworm was closely synchronized with periodically occurring rhythmic abdominal movements that caused extracardiac hemocoelic pulsations, which facilitate hemolymph circulation and exchange of respiratory gases. The results suggest that the secretory products of the neurosecretory cells may activate and/or orchestrate physiological mechanisms supporting morphogenesis during metamorphosis.
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