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date: 15 April 2021

Abstract and Keywords

This article compares the neural basis for swimming in sea slugs belonging to the Nudipleura clade of molluscs. There are two primary forms of swimming. One, dorsal/ventral (DV) body flexions, is typified by Tritonia diomedea and Pleurobranchaea californica. Although Tritonia and Pleurobranchaea evolved DV swimming independently, there are at least two homologous neurons in the central pattern generators (CPGs) underlying DV swimming in these species. Furthermore, both species have serotonergic neuromodulation of synaptic strength intrinsic to their CPGs. The other form of swimming is with alternating left/right (LR) body flexions. Melibe and Dendronotus belong to a clade of species that all swim with LR body flexions. Although the swimming behavior is homologous, their swim CPGs differ in both cellular composition and in the details of the neural mechanisms. Thus, similar behaviors have independently evolved through parallel use of homologous neurons, and homologous behaviors can be produced by different neural mechanisms.

Keywords: evolution, homologous neurons, neuromodulation, central pattern generator, mollusc, serotonin, behavior, swimming

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