Putative adult neurogenesis in palaeognathous birds: The common ostrich (Struthio camelus) and emu (Dromaius novaehollandiae)

Document Type



Brain and Mind Institute


In the current study, we examined adult neurogenesis throughout the brain of the common ostrich (Struthio camelus) and emu (Dromaius novaehollandiae) using immunohistochemistry for the endogenous markers PCNA which labels proliferating cells, and DCX, which stains immature and migrating neurons. The distribution of PCNA and DCX labelled cells was widespread throughout the brain of both species. The highest density of cells immunoreactive to both markers was observed in the olfactory bulbs and the telencephalon, especially the subventricular zone of the lateral ventricle. Proliferative hot spots, identified with strong PCNA and DCX immunolabelling, were identified in the dorsal and ventral poles of the rostral aspects of the lateral ventricles. The density of PCNA immunoreactive cells was less in the telencephalon of the emu compared to the common ostrich. Substantial numbers of PCNA immunoreactive cells were observed in the diencephalon and brainstem, but DCX immunoreactivity was weaker in these regions, preferentially staining axons and dendrites over cell bodies, except in the medial regions of the hypothalamus where distinct DCX immunoreactive cells and fibres were observed. PCNA and DCX immunoreactive cells were readily observed in moderate density in the cortical layers of the cerebellum of both species. The distribution of putative proliferating cells and immature neurons in the brain of the common ostrich and the emu is widespread, far more so than in mammals, and compares with the neognathous birds, and suggests that brain plasticity and neuronal turnover is an important aspect of cognitive brain functions in these birds.


This work was published before the author joined Aga Khan University.

Publication (Name of Journal)

International Journal of Developmental Neuroscience