Conserved neural circuit structure across Drosophila larval development revealed by comparative connectomics.

25 Jan 2018

During postembryonic development, the nervous system must adapt to a growing body. How changes in neuronal structure and connectivity contribute to the maintenance of appropriate circuit function remains unclear. Previously , we measured the cellular neuroanatomy underlying synaptic connectivity in Drosophila (Schneider-Mizell et al., 2016). Here, we examined how neuronal morphology and connectivity change between first instar and third instar larval stages using serial section electron microscopy. We reconstructed nociceptive circuits in a larva of each stage and found consistent topographically arranged connectivity between identified neurons. Five-fold increases in each size, number of terminal dendritic branches, and total number of synaptic inputs were accompanied by cell type-specific connectivity changes that preserved the fraction of total synaptic input associated with each pre-synaptic partner. We propose that precise patterns of structural growth act to conserve the computational function of a circuit, for example determining the location of a dangerous stimulus.