Skip to main content
Dryad logo

Impacts of development and adult sex on brain cell numbers in the Black Soldier Fly, Hermetia illucens L. (Diptera: Stratiomyidae)  

Citation

Barrett, Meghan; Godfrey, R Keating; Sterner, Emily J.; Waddell, Edward A. (2022), Impacts of development and adult sex on brain cell numbers in the Black Soldier Fly, Hermetia illucens L. (Diptera: Stratiomyidae)  , Dryad, Dataset, https://doi.org/10.5061/dryad.cc2fqz68b

Abstract

The Black Soldier Fly (Hermetia illucens, Diptera: Stratiomyidae) has been introduced across the globe, with numerous industry applications predicated on its tremendous growth during the larval stage. However, basic research on H. illucens biology (for example, studies of their central nervous system) are lacking. Despite their small brain volumes, insects are capable of complex behaviors; understanding how these behaviors are completed with such a small amount of neural tissue requires understanding processing power (e.g. number of cells) within the brain. Brain cell counts have been completed in only a few insect species (mostly Hymenoptera), and almost exclusively in adults. This limits the taxonomic breadth of comparative analyses, as well as any conclusions about how development and body size growth may impact brain cell populations. Here, we present the first images and cell counts of the H. illucens brain at four time points across development (early, mid, and late larval stages, and both male and female adults) using immunohistochemistry and isotropic fractionation. To assess sexual dimorphism in adults, we quantified the number of cells in the central brain vs. optic lobes of males and females separately. To assess if increases in body size during development might independently affect different regions of the CNS, we quantified the larval ventral nerve cord and central brain separately at all three stages. Together, these data provide the first description of the nervous system of a popular, farmed invertebrate and the first study of brain cell numbers using IF across developmental stages in any insect.

Funding

Rethink Priorities

Holy Family University