The serotonergic innervation of the stomatogastric ganglion (STG) of three decapod crustacean species, Panulirus interruptus, Homarus americanus and Cancer irroratus, was studied. Immunohistochemical techniques were used to study the distribution of serotonin-like staining in regions of the stomatogastric system in the three species. In C. irroratus and H. americanus, but not in P. interruptus, serotonin-like staining was found in fibres in the stomatogastric nerve and in neuropil regions of the STG. High performance liquid chromatography confirmed the presence of serotonin in STG of C. irroratus and H. americanus, but serotonin was not found in STG of P. interruptus. Electrophysiological experiments showed that the pyloric motor output of the STG of all three species was influenced by bath applications of serotonin. The STG of P. interruptus responded to serotonin concentrations as low as 10–9M; however the STG of the other two species did not respond until serotonin concentrations in excess of 10-6M were applied. We conclude that serotonin may play a hormonal role in the control of the STG of P. interruptus, but is likely to be a neurotransmitter released by inputs to the STG of H. americanus and C. irroratus.

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