The relationship between ultrastructure and photosensitivity of pigmented neurons of the abdominal ganglion of Aplysia californica was investigated using electron microscopy and electrophysiological methods. Four identified neurons of similar light microscopic appearance were examined; two are photoresponsive and two are not. Illumination hyperpolarizes both responsive neurons. One of them, R2, requires roughly 100 times greater light intensities than does the other, the ventral photoresponsive neuron (VPN), for similar responses. Two neurons lying adjacent to VPN and similar in appearance to VPN do not have measurable electrophysiological responses to even the highest light intensities. All four neurons contained lipochondria, pigmented organelles associated with the light response. Therefore the presence of these organelles is not the only requirement for light sensitivity in these neurons. Illumination appeared to increase the number of membranous lipochondria in both R2 and the ventral neurons, but only in R2 was this increase significant. Factors such as the concentration of lipochondria near the plasma membrane may affect quantitative aspects of the light response, but in the insensitive cells the lipochondria are apparently uncoupled from other factors required for the light response.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience