Structure of the Giant Fibers of Earthworms

Science  22 May 1970:
Vol. 168, Issue 3934, pp. 994-996
DOI: 10.1126/science.168.3934.994


The median giant fiber and the pair of lateral giant fibers that run the length of the ventral nerve cord in earthworms were thought to arise by fusion of the axons of several nerve cells in each segment. The structure of these giant fibers has now been examined with a fluorescent dye injected into single fibers. Each giant axon connects to one cell body in each segment; the giant fibers are not fused axons. In each segment, the median giant fiber has three branches and each lateral giant fiber has five branches. These branches are presumably dendritic. No structural differences between the giant fibers in anterior and posterior regions of the worm seem to account for the functional polarity of the giant fiber system observed in behavioral studies.