Functional anatomy of vagina muscles in the blood-feeding insect, Rhodnius prolixus
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The physiology of the muscles associated with the vagina in the blood-feeding insect, Rhodnius prolixus Stal, was investigated with the use of Methylene Blue staining to visualize the anatomy, and a micro force transducer to record spontaneous and neurally-evoked contractions. The vagina is associated with a dorsal muscle and a set of paired lateral muscles. The dorsal muscle extends from the base of the common oviduct to apodemes located laterally on sternite VIII, the first genital segment. The lateral muscles extend from a medially-located apodeme on the posterior edge of sternite VI around each side of the common oviduct to travel posteriorly along the side of the vagina before inserting laterally on apodemes on sternite VIII. The vagina muscles display spontaneous and neurally-evoked contractions that are prolonged but transient. The response to evoked contractions shows that the muscles are innervated by both excitatory and inhibitory motor axons. The degree of tension generated by evoked contractions is dependent on the frequency of stimulation with maximal tension being generated at 20-30Hz. This tension, which often exceeds 400mg, is transient and returns to a baseline within 1 to 2min during continuous stimulation. These results, which are the first to describe this chamber in this well-studied insect, are discussed with respect to the act of egg laying.
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