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Previously undiscovered neurons of the Bogong moth brain: 3D-reconstruction and registration

Claesson, Olle (2016) MOBK01 20152
Degree Projects in Molecular Biology
Abstract
The Australian Bogong moths are thought to have the ability to sense the earth’s magnetic field. This ability has to be reflected in the animal’s neural architecture. Hence reconstruction of three brain neurons was carried out, though these respond to visual stimulation instead of magnetic. These reconstructions were compared to that of other known specie’s visual responsive neurons to provide a basis for future investigation into the Bogong moth’s magnetic processing. The neurons were reconstructed with the Amira5.3 program to give 3D representations of their morphology. From this it was concluded that two of the neurons lack homologous ones in other species, these two being previously undiscovered. Implying a possible deviance in how the... (More)
The Australian Bogong moths are thought to have the ability to sense the earth’s magnetic field. This ability has to be reflected in the animal’s neural architecture. Hence reconstruction of three brain neurons was carried out, though these respond to visual stimulation instead of magnetic. These reconstructions were compared to that of other known specie’s visual responsive neurons to provide a basis for future investigation into the Bogong moth’s magnetic processing. The neurons were reconstructed with the Amira5.3 program to give 3D representations of their morphology. From this it was concluded that two of the neurons lack homologous ones in other species, these two being previously undiscovered. Implying a possible deviance in how the Bogong moth processes visual information. (Less)
Popular Abstract
Brain architecture can give information about your worldly position

Imagine yourself suddenly lost inside a thick green forest and you have no idea of how you got there. You are starting to get hungry, you want to go home, but where is home? As if that wasn’t enough the sun is slowly setting over the majestic trees lines, twilight falls and then, then it’s almost impossible to see the world in front of you. Sounds hard huh? These are the conditions that the Australian Bogong moth migrates under and this for a distance 100 of mils.

Members of this small insect species are born in the northern part of Australia and migrate to the south, where they sleep through the summer months only to return to their breeding grounds once they... (More)
Brain architecture can give information about your worldly position

Imagine yourself suddenly lost inside a thick green forest and you have no idea of how you got there. You are starting to get hungry, you want to go home, but where is home? As if that wasn’t enough the sun is slowly setting over the majestic trees lines, twilight falls and then, then it’s almost impossible to see the world in front of you. Sounds hard huh? These are the conditions that the Australian Bogong moth migrates under and this for a distance 100 of mils.

Members of this small insect species are born in the northern part of Australia and migrate to the south, where they sleep through the summer months only to return to their breeding grounds once they awaken. Here in the north they mate and then they die, passing on the mantle to the next generation. The only way these insects can know where they are going is through having some sensory input telling them which direction they’re facing, like their eyes. Because the Bogongs are active during the night most reliable stimuli from the sun, that can give an insect an understanding of where to go, are missing. The only really reliable stimulus left is the ability to sense the earth’s magnetic field. This works in a manner similar to that of a compass, it is like the Bogongs have an internal compass in their head guiding them to their destination.

For this internal compass to work there need to be some mechanics behind it, in the case of animals this is most often the brain. The brain can be seen as a big tangled mess of millions of wires connecting different brain areas to one another. Depending on how these connections between wires look an individual might have different abilities, like the internal compass. There needs to be a reflection of this and other abilities in this insect’s brain. Bellow three of these different brain cells, these wires, have been reconstructed in 3D. The cells are shown in different colors, with a few brain areas being transparently grey. These cells collect information from vastly different brain areas and transmit it other different areas. All are involved in processing slightly different kinds of information. They all responded to visual information, not magnetic. However knowing their function is an important step in determining how the internal magnetic compass functions.

If one understands how the different cells within a brain wire together it is possible to make synthetic systems that can process information in a similar manner. That is, making computers and robots that can use the earth’s magnetic field and know what direction it’s facing. So in the future, when you are standing in the forest all alone, without a functional GPS on your phone, you might be able to take it out of your pocket. And even without you knowing your position your phone will be able to sense the earth’s magnetic field and determine which way your home is. You’ll be home and dry all thanks to this little insect’s brain.


Supervisor: Stanley Heinze
Degree Project MOBK01, 15 credits, 2015
Department of Biology, Lund University (Less)
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author
Claesson, Olle
supervisor
organization
course
MOBK01 20152
year
type
M2 - Bachelor Degree
subject
language
English
id
8839785
date added to LUP
2016-03-09 15:54:16
date last changed
2016-03-09 15:54:16
@misc{8839785,
  abstract     = {The Australian Bogong moths are thought to have the ability to sense the earth’s magnetic field. This ability has to be reflected in the animal’s neural architecture. Hence reconstruction of three brain neurons was carried out, though these respond to visual stimulation instead of magnetic. These reconstructions were compared to that of other known specie’s visual responsive neurons to provide a basis for future investigation into the Bogong moth’s magnetic processing. The neurons were reconstructed with the Amira5.3 program to give 3D representations of their morphology. From this it was concluded that two of the neurons lack homologous ones in other species, these two being previously undiscovered. Implying a possible deviance in how the Bogong moth processes visual information.},
  author       = {Claesson, Olle},
  language     = {eng},
  note         = {Student Paper},
  title        = {Previously undiscovered neurons of the Bogong moth brain: 3D-reconstruction and registration},
  year         = {2016},
}