The neuroendocrine bag cells of the hermaphroditic marine gastropod, Aplysia, secrete peptide hormones that induce release of ripe eggs from the ovotestis. The egg string is subsequently deposited on the substrate by means of a complex sequence of rhythmic head and neck movements. Gonadectomy (removal of the ovotestis) was performed in two closely related species of Aplysia to prevent completely the synthesis, build-up and release of eggs. Chronically implanted electrodes were used either to monitor spontaneous bag cell discharges (A. brasiliana) or to selectively elicit bag cell discharges (A. californica) in gonadectomized and mock-operated animals. Gonadectomized animals showed the normal occurrence of spontaneous bag cell discharges in the complete absence of eggs, indicating that feedback from ripe eggs in the ovotestis is not necessary for normal activation of the bag cells. However, gonadectomized animals showed a significant decrease in specific head and neck movements following elicited bag cell discharges. This finding indicates that, once the bag cells fire and the eggs are released, input from the eggs is necessary for normal expression of the behaviour associated with egg deposition.

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