Autonomic Nervous System

The tidal flow of hemolymph, the extracardiac pulsations, heartbeat reversal, and thermoregulation all imply a very sophisticated control of circulation by the central nervous system. The central nervous system also plays a role in regulation of the respiratory system. It seems increasingly clear that the activities of circulatory and respiratory systems are coordinated by the central nervous system, perhaps to an extent not fully appreciated, but strongly implied by the tidal flow of hemolymph concept of Lutz Wasserthal.

It would be convenient and satisfying to be able to point out a particular part of the central nervous system and related peripheral nerves in insects that might comprise this regulatory system; however, outside existing evidence that the meso- and/or metathoracic ganglia play a major role in certain of these functions, entomologists know of no such discrete structure or structures, possibly because these interregulatory functions have been undertaken by different parts of the nervous system in different insects. It is known that insects have a number of regulatory mechanisms that can be recruited to achieve such control, from motor and sensory neurons to neurosecretory neurons to neurohormonal organs located all over the insect hemocoel.

See Also the Following Articles

Hemolymph • Immunology • Respiratory System • Thermoregulation

Further Reading

Ai, H., and Kuwasawa, K. (1995). Neural pathways for cardiac reflexes triggered by external mechanical stimuli in larvae of Bombyx mori. J. Insect Physiol. 41, 1119-1131.

FIGURE 3 Circulation under precise nervous control of the dorsal vessel (DV) keeps the flight muscles (red) warm in the noctuid winter moth with the aid of two strategically placed countercurrent heat exchangers (TE and AE). [Modified from Heinrich, B. (1987). Thermoregulation in winter moths. Sci. Am. 256, 104-111. Illustration by Patricia J. Wynne.]

FIGURE 3 Circulation under precise nervous control of the dorsal vessel (DV) keeps the flight muscles (red) warm in the noctuid winter moth with the aid of two strategically placed countercurrent heat exchangers (TE and AE). [Modified from Heinrich, B. (1987). Thermoregulation in winter moths. Sci. Am. 256, 104-111. Illustration by Patricia J. Wynne.]

Heinrich, B. (1971). Temperature regulation in the sphinx moth, Manduca sexta. II: Regulation of heat loss by control of blood circulation. J. Exp. Biol. 54, 153-166.

Jones, J. C. (1977). "The Circulatory System of Insects." Thomas, Springfield, IL.

Miller, T. A. (1997). Control of circulation in insects. Gen. Pharmacol. 29, 23-38.

Pass, G. (2000). Accessory pulsatile organs: Evolutionary innovations in insects. Annu. Rev. Entomol. 45, 495-518.

Slama, K. (2000). Extracardiac versus cardiac haemocoelic pulsations in pupae of the mealworm (Tenebrio molitor L.). J. Insect Physiol. 46, 977-992.

Wasserthal, L. T. (1996). Interaction of circulation and tracheal ventilation in holometabolous insects. Adv. Insect Physiol. 26, 297-351.

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