Discover the most talked about and latest scientific content & concepts.

Concept: Lymnaea stagnalis


BACKGROUND: Various shapes of gastropod shells have evolved ever since the Cambrian. Although theoretical analyses of morphogenesis exist, the molecular basis of shell development remains unclear. We compared expression patterns of the decapentaplegic (dpp) gene in the shell gland and mantle tissues at various developmental stages between coiled-shell and non-coiled-shell gastropods. RESULTS: We analyzed the expression patterns of dpp for the two limpets Patella vulgata and Nipponacmea fuscoviridis, and for the dextral wild-type and sinistral mutant lineage of the pond snail Lymnaea stagnalis. The limpets had symmetric expression patterns of dpp throughout ontogeny, whereas in the pond snail, the results indicated asymmetric and mirror image patterns between the dextral and sinistral lineages. CONCLUSION: We hypothesize that Dpp induces mantle expansion, and the presence of a left/right asymmetric gradient of the Dpp protein causes the formation of a coiled shell. Our results provide a molecular explanation for shell, coiling including new insights into expression patterns in post-embryonic development, which should aid in understanding how various shell shapes are formed and have evolved in the gastropods.

Concepts: Gene, Developmental biology, Mollusca, Gastropod shell, Snail, Gastropoda, Lymnaea stagnalis, Limpet


Oscillating neuronal circuits, known as central pattern generators (CPGs), are responsible for generating rhythmic behaviours such as walking, breathing and chewing. The CPG model alone however does not account for the ability of animals to adapt their future behaviour to changes in the sensory environment that signal reward. Here, using multi-electrode array (MEA) recording in an established experimental model of centrally generated rhythmic behaviour we show that the feeding CPG of Lymnaea stagnalis is itself associated with another, and hitherto unidentified, oscillating neuronal population. This extra-CPG oscillator is characterised by high population-wide activity alternating with population-wide quiescence. During the quiescent periods the CPG is refractory to activation by food-associated stimuli. Furthermore, the duration of the refractory period predicts the timing of the next activation of the CPG, which may be minutes into the future. Rewarding food stimuli and dopamine accelerate the frequency of the extra-CPG oscillator and reduce the duration of its quiescent periods. These findings indicate that dopamine adapts future feeding behaviour to the availability of food by significantly reducing the refractory period of the brain’s feeding circuitry.

Concepts: Time, Brain, Oscillation, Wave, Dopamine, Periodic function, Lymnaea stagnalis, Refractory period


The pond snail Lymnaea stagnalis is among several mollusc species that have been well investigated due to the simplicity of their nervous systems and large identifiable neurons. Nonetheless, despite the continued attention given to the physiological characteristics of its nervous system, the genetic information of the Lymnaea central nervous system (CNS) has not yet been fully explored. The absence of genetic information is a large disadvantage for transcriptome sequencing because it makes transcriptome assembly difficult. We here performed transcriptome sequencing for Lymnaea CNS using an Illumina Genome Analyzer IIx platform and obtained 81.9 M of 100 base pair (bp) single end reads. For de novo assembly, five programs were used: ABySS, Velvet, OASES, Trinity and Rnnotator. Based on a comparison of the assemblies, we chose the Rnnotator dataset for the following blast searches and gene ontology analyses. The present dataset, 116,355 contigs of Lymnaea transcriptome shotgun assembly (TSA), contained longer sequences and was much larger compared to the previously reported Lymnaea expression sequence tag (EST) established by classical Sanger sequencing. The TSA sequences were subjected to blast analyses against several protein databases and Aplysia EST data. The results demonstrated that about 20,000 sequences had significant similarity to the reported sequences using a cutoff value of 1e-6, and showed the lack of molluscan sequences in the public databases. The richness of the present TSA data allowed us to identify a large number of new transcripts in Lymnaea and molluscan species.

Concepts: Central nervous system, Nervous system, DNA, Neuron, Gene, Genetics, Brain, Lymnaea stagnalis


The effects of stress on memory are typically assessed individually; however, in reality different stressors are often experienced simultaneously. Here we determined the effect that two environmentally relevant stressors, crowding and low calcium availability, have on memory and neural activity following operant conditioning of aerial respiration in the pond snail, Lymnaea stagnalis. We measured aerial breathing behaviour and activity of a neuron necessary for memory formation, right pedal dorsal 1 (RPeD1), in the central pattern generator (CPG) that drives aerial respiration in untrained animals, and assessed how these traits changed following training. In naïve animals both crowding and combined stressors significantly depressed burst activity in RPeD1 which correlated with a depression in aerial breathing behaviour, whereas low calcium availability had no effect on RPeD1 activity. Following training, changes in burst activity in RPeD1 correlated with behavioural changes, decreasing relative to their naïve state at 3 h and 24 h in control conditions when both intermediate-term memory (ITM: 3 h) and long-term memory (LTM: 24 h) are formed, at 3 h but not 24 h when exposed to individual stressors when only ITM is formed, and did not change in combined stressors (i.e. when no memory is formed). Additionally, we also found that Lymnaea formed short-term memory (STM: 10 min) in the presence of individual stressors or under control conditions, but failed to do so in the presence of combined stressors. Our data demonstrate that by combining stressors that individually block LTM only we can block all memory processes. Therefore the effects of two stressors with similar individual affects on memory phenotype may be additive when experienced in combination.

Concepts: Psychology, Memory, Behaviorism, Short-term memory, Long-term memory, Lymnaea stagnalis, Lymnaeidae, Lymnaea


The pond snail Lymnaea stagnalis is capable of learning taste aversion and consolidating this learning into long-term memory (LTM) that is called conditioned taste aversion (CTA). Previous studies showed that some molluscan insulin-related peptides (MIPs) were upregulated in snails exhibiting CTA. We thus hypothesized that MIPs play an important role in neurons underlying the CTA-LTM consolidation process. To examine this hypothesis, we first observed the distribution of MIP II, a major peptide of MIPs, and MIP receptor and determined the amounts of their mRNAs in the CNS. MIP II was only observed in the light green cells in the cerebral ganglia, but the MIP receptor was distributed throughout the entire CNS, including the buccal ganglia. Next, when we applied exogenous mammalian insulin, secretions from MIP-containing cells or partially purified MIPs, to the isolated CNS, we observed a long-term change in synaptic efficacy (i.e., enhancement) of the synaptic connection between the cerebral giant cell (a key interneuron for CTA) and the B1 motor neuron (a buccal motor neuron). This synaptic enhancement was blocked by application of an insulin receptor antibody to the isolated CNS. Finally, injection of the insulin receptor antibody into the snail before CTA training, while not blocking the acquisition of taste aversion learning, blocked the memory consolidation process; thus, LTM was not observed. These data suggest that MIPs trigger changes in synaptic connectivity that may be correlated with the consolidation of taste aversion learning into CTA-LTM in the Lymnaea CNS.

Concepts: Alzheimer's disease, Protein, Ganglion, Synaptic plasticity, Memory, Long-term potentiation, Classical conditioning, Lymnaea stagnalis


Amyloid beta (Aβ) induced neuronal death has been linked to memory loss, perhaps the most devastating symptom of Alzheimer’s disease (AD). Although Aβ-induced impairment of synaptic or intrinsic plasticity is known to occur before any cell death, the links between these neurophysiological changes and the loss of specific types of behavioral memory are not fully understood. Here we used a behaviorally and physiologically tractable animal model to investigate Aβ-induced memory loss and electrophysiological changes in the absence of neuronal death in a defined network underlying associative memory. We found similar behavioral but different neurophysiological effects for Aβ 25-35 and Aβ 1-42 in the feeding circuitry of the snail Lymnaea stagnalis. Importantly, we also established that both the behavioral and neuronal effects were dependent upon the animals having been classically conditioned prior to treatment, since Aβ application before training caused neither memory impairment nor underlying neuronal changes over a comparable period of time following treatment.

Concepts: Alzheimer's disease, Time, Disease, Neuroscience, The Animals, Beta amyloid, Lymnaea stagnalis, Memory loss


Habitat stability and predation pressure are thought to be major drivers in the evolutionary maintenance of behavioural syndromes, with trait covariance only occurring within specific habitats. However, animals also exhibit behavioural plasticity, often through memory formation. Memory formation across traits may be linked, with covariance in memory traits (memory syndromes) selected under particular environmental conditions. This study tests whether the pond snail, Lymnaea stagnalis, demonstrates consistency among memory traits (‘memory syndrome’) related to threat avoidance and foraging. We used eight populations originating from three different habitat types: i) laboratory populations (stable habitat, predator-free); ii) river populations (fairly stable habitat, fish predation); and iii) ditch populations (unstable habitat, invertebrate predation). At a population level, there was a negative relationship between memories related to threat avoidance and food selectivity, but no consistency within habitat type. At an individual level, covariance between memory traits was dependent on habitat. Laboratory populations showed no covariance among memory traits, whereas river populations showed a positive correlation between food memories, and ditch populations demonstrated a negative relationship between threat memory and food memories. Therefore, selection pressures among habitats appear to act independently on memory trait covariation at an individual level and the average response within a population.

Concepts: Psychology, Natural selection, Biology, Memory, Covariance and correlation, Lymnaea stagnalis, Lymnaeidae, Lymnaea


Parasitized individuals are often expected to be poor competitors because they are weakened by infections. Many trematode species, however, although extensively exploiting their mollusc hosts, also induce gigantism (increased host size) by diverting host resources towards growth instead of reproduction. In such systems, alternatively to reduced competitive ability due to negative effects of parasitism on host performance, larger size could allow more efficient resource acquisition and thus increase the relative competitive ability of host individuals. We addressed this hypothesis by testing the effect of a trematode parasite Diplostomum pseudospathaceum on the competitive ability of its snail host Lymnaea stagnalis. We experimentally examined the growth of snails kept in pairs in relation to their infection status and intensity of resource competition (i.e. food availability). We found that parasitized snails grew faster and their reproduction was reduced compared to unparasitized individuals indicating parasite-induced gigantism. However, growth of the snails was faster when competing with parasitized individuals compared to unparasitized snails indicating reduced competitive ability due to parasitism. The latter effect, however, was relatively weak suggesting that the effects of the parasite on snail physiology may partly override each other in determining competitive ability.

Concepts: Immune system, Human, Competition, Mollusca, Snail, Gastropoda, Lymnaea stagnalis, Slug


Many organisms survive in constantly changing environments, including cycling seasons. Developing embryos show remarkable instant adaptations to the variable environmental challenges they encounter during their adult life, despite having no direct contact with the changing environment until after birth or hatching. The mechanisms by which such non-genetic information is transferred to the developing embryos are largely unknown. Here, we address this question by using a freshwater pond snail (Lymnaea stagnalis) as a model system. This snail normally lives in a seasonal climate, and the seasons define its locomotion, feeding, and reproductive behavior. We discovered that the serotonergic system plays a crucial role in transmitting a non-genetic instructive signal from mother to progeny. This maternal serotonin-based signal functions in embryos during a short time window at exclusively early pre-neural developmental stages and modulates the dynamics of embryonic and juvenile growth, feeding behavior, and locomotion.

Concepts: Developmental biology, Environment, Serotonin, Behavior, Season, Snail, Lymnaea stagnalis, Lymnaea


Interspecies variation in sensitivity to synthetic chemicals can be orders of magnitude large. Species traits causing the variation can be related to toxicokinetics (uptake, distribution, biotransformation, elimination), or toxicodynamics (interaction with biological target sites). We present an approach to systematically measure and model the contribution of uptake, biotransformation, internal distribution and elimination kinetics towards species sensitivity differences. The aim is to express sensitivity as target tissue specific, internal lethal concentrations. A case study with the pesticides diazinon, imidacloprid and propiconazole and the aquatic invertebrates Gammarus pulex, Gammarus fossarum and Lymnaea stagnalis illustrates the approach. L. stagnalis accumulates more pesticides than Gammaridae when measured in whole organisms but less in target tissues such as the nervous system. Toxicokinetics, i.e. biotransformation and distribution, explain the higher tolerance of L. stagnalis to the insecticide diazinon when compared to Gammaridae. L. stagnalis was again more tolerant to the other neurotoxicant imidacloprid, however, the difference in sensitivity could not be explained by toxicokinetics alone, indicating the importance of toxicodynamic differences. Sensitivity to propiconazole was comparable among all species, and when expressed as internal lethal concentrations, falls in the range of baseline toxicity.

Concepts: Central nervous system, Nervous system, DNA, Biology, Species, Insecticide, Lymnaea stagnalis, Gammarus