Do quiescence and wasp venom-induced lethargy share common neuronal mechanisms in cockroaches? Academic Article uri icon


  • The escape behavior of a cockroach may not occur when it is either in a quiescent state or after being stung by the jewel wasp (Ampulex compressa). In the present paper, we show that quiescence is an innate lethargic state during which the cockroach is less responsive to external stimuli. The neuronal mechanism of such a state is poorly understood. In contrast to quiescence, the venom-induced lethargic state is not an innate state in cockroaches. The Jewel Wasp disables the escape behavior of cockroaches by injecting its venom directly in the head ganglia, inside a neuropile called the central complex a ‘higher center’ known to regulate motor behaviors. In this paper we show that the coxal slow motoneuron ongoing activity, known to be involved in posture, is reduced in quiescent animals, as compared to awake animals, and it is further reduced in stung animals. Moreover, the regular tonic firing of the slow motoneuron present in both awake and quiescent cockroaches is lost in stung cockroaches. Injection of procaine to prevent neuronal activity into the central complex to mimic the wasp venom injection produces a similar effect on the activity of the slow motoneuron. In conclusion, we speculate that the neuronal modulation during the quiescence and venom-induced lethargic states may occur in the central complex and that both states could share a common neuronal mechanism.

publication date

  • January 1, 2017