The role of modulation on the pyloric neurons and the neuromuscular junction in a pattern generator-effector system
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Neuromodulation, the process of altering the electrical outputs of a neuron or neural circuit, allows an organism to control its physiological processes to meet the needs of both its internal and external environments. Previous work shows that the pyloric pattern of the kelp crab (Pugettia producta) stomatogastric nervous system (STNS) neurons responded to fewer neuromodulators than the Jonah crab (Cancer borealis). Since the kelp crab diet primarily eats kelp, it is possible that the movements of the foregut that control digestion may require less flexibility in functional output compared to an opportunistic feeder. To determine whether a reduced flexibility is correlated with diet, this study compared the modulatory responses in Pugettia to two other species of majoid crabs: Chionoecetes opilio and Libinia emarginata, which are both opportunistic feeders. Pooled data for this study found that Libinia and Chionoecetes responded to all twelve modulators tested.
When considering the effect of modulators on stomatogastric ganglion (STG) motor outputs, we must consider whether these modulators also alter the excitatory junction potentials (EJPs) at the neuromuscular junction (NMJ), and whether there are differences in responses across species. To test this, the dorsal gastric nerve (dgn) was stimulated while recording intracellularly from the muscle fibers of the associated gm4 muscles. The NMJ of the gm4 in Cancer borealis did not appear to be broadly modulated, as only RPCH and CabTRP showed increases in amplitude, and RPCH decreased facilitation at 5 Hz.