Axon order in the visual pathway of the quokka wallaby

D.K. Chelvanayagam, Sarah Dunlop, Lyn Beazley

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Axon order throughout the visual pathway of the quokka wallaby (Setonix brachyurus) was determined after localised retinal applications of the tracers DiI and/or DiASP. Postnatal days (P) 22-90 were studied to encompass the development and refinement of retinal projections. Order was essentially similar at all stages. Axons entered the optic nerve head true to their sector of retinal origin. In the optic nerve, nasal and temporal axons continued to reflect their retinal origin, dominating respectively: the medial and lateral halves. By contrast, dorsal and ventral axons exchanged locations between the retrobulbar level and one-third the distance along the nerve; thus, the inversion of the dorsoventral retinal axis, imposed by the lens, was corrected. Decussating axons maintained their relative locations through the chiasm. At the base of the optic tract, nasal and temporal axons underwent an axial rotation to lie on the medial and lateral sides, respectively; thus nasal overlapped with ventral axons and temporal with dorsal axons. Axons maintained their alignments throughout the tract, and as a result, nasal and ventral axons invaded the superior colliculus medially, whereas temporal and dorsal axons invaded laterally. Each retinal quadrant terminated preferentially in its retinotopically appropriate sector of the colliculus.The arrangement of axons in the quokka visual pathway displays several novel features. Axon order is distinct throughout, involving a well-demarcated exchange of dorsal and ventral axons in the nerve and an axial rotation of nasal and temporal axons at the base of the tract these relocations suggest decision regions for growing axons. The organisation presumably underlies the less extensive searching within the developing superior colliculus to generate retinotopic maps in the quokka and also in tammar wallaby [Marotte, J. Comp Neurol. 293:524-539, 1990] than in the rat [Simon and O'Leary, J. Neurosci. 12:1212-1232, 1992]. (C) 1998 Wiley-Liss, Inc.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)333-341
JournalJournal of Comparative Neurology
Publication statusPublished - 1998


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