Gastropod Sensory Systems

The pond snail Lymnaea

Sensory systems are a key component in the control of most behaviours. At present, our understanding of gastropod sensory systems is limited. Previous research on the peripheral nervous system has created a patchwork of information encompassing different sensory cell types scattered across different species. Our long-term goal is to create a catalog of sensory cell types, including morphology, distributions and modality (particularly mechanosensory vs chemosensory).

Our experimental animals for this work:

Hermissenda‘s brain, with histamine in the statocyst (s) but not the eye (e).
  • Lymnaea stagnalis (pond snail)
  • Hermissenda crassicornis (opalescent nudibranch)
  • Aplysia californica (California sea hare)

And we use these animals in various projects:

  • Immunohistochemical, backfill, and vital dye labelling of sensory neurons to provide both anatomical information as well as putative neurotransmitter(s) for each sensory cell type.doi:10.1002/cne.22607


  • Behavioural assays to test the roles of different sensory cell types/neurotransmitters in different behaviours.
  • Novel approaches to assessing function of the sensory cells by directly testing their responses to mechanical and chemical stimuli (optical recordings) or making use of modern molecular genetics (gene expression analyses, perhaps knock-down experiments).
    Sensory cells in Aplysia siphon

Collaborators: Roger Croll, Dan Jackson, Scott Cummins

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