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Functionally redundant peg sensilla on the scorpion pecten
- Knowlton, Elizabeth D., Gaffin, Douglas D.
- Journal of comparative physiology 2011 v.197 no.9 pp. 895-902
- Scorpiones, citric acid, ethanol, humans, models, moths, potassium chloride, sensilla
- All scorpions have two mid-ventral organs called pectines. Each pecten has thousands of pore-tipped sensilla sensitive to a variety of volatile organic and water-based stimulants. However, it was previously unknown whether individual sensilla were functionally identical or different. The information enhancement hypothesis predicts that all sensilla have similar chemosensitivities such that each is a unit of a parallel processing system. The information segmentation hypothesis states that sensilla differ in their chemosensitivities, a functional arrangement akin to the glomeruli-specific chemical detection system in the moth or human olfactory sense. In this study, we tested these hypotheses by extracellularly tip-recording sensillar responses to three aqueous tastants: 0.01 M KCl, 0.1 M citric acid, and 40% ethanol by volume. We isolated stimulation to one sensillum at a time and compared the chemoresponses. Sensilla appeared to respond similarly to the same stimulant (i.e., sensillar tip-recordings revealed activity of the same cell types), although sometimes a few sensilla responded with higher spike rates than the others. We conclude that our data primarily support the information enhancement hypothesis but for future tests of sensillar function we suggest a new hybrid model, which proposes that a few specialized sensilla exist among a mostly uniform field of identical sensilla.