A complete reconstruction of the early visual system of an adult insect.

Current biology : CB(2023)

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For most model organisms in neuroscience, research into visual processing in the brain is difficult because of a lack of high-resolution maps that capture complex neuronal circuitry. The microinsect Megaphragma viggianii, because of its small size and non-trivial behavior, provides a unique opportunity for tractable whole-organism connectomics. We image its whole head using serial electron microscopy. We reconstruct its compound eye and analyze the optical properties of the ommatidia as well as the connectome of the first visual neuropil-the lamina. Compared with the fruit fly and the honeybee, Megaphragma visual system is highly simplified: it has 29 ommatidia per eye and 6 lamina neuron types. We report features that are both stereotypical among most ommatidia and specialized to some. By identifying the "barebones" circuits critical for flying insects, our results will facilitate constructing computational models of visual processing in insects.
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