Distribution and morphology of catecholaminergic and serotonergic neurons in the brain of the highveld gerbil, Tatera brantsii

Document Type



Brain and Mind Institute


The distribution, morphology and nuclear subdivisions of the putative catecholaminergic and serotonergic systems within the brain of the highveld gerbil were identified following immunohistochemistry for tyrosine hydroxylase and serotonin. The aim of the present study was to investigate possible differences in the complement of nuclear subdivisions of these systems when comparing those of the highveld gerbil with those of the laboratory rat. The highveld gerbil was chosen as it is relatively closely related to the laboratory rat, but the Gerbillinae and Murinae lineages diverged over 20 million years ago. Moreover, even though brain sizes are similar, the life history and phenotypes between these two species are substantially different. The gerbils used in the present study were caught from the wild, which is again another contrast to the laboratory rat. While these differences may lead to the prediction of significant differences in the nuclear complement of these systems, we found that all nuclei identified in both systems in the laboratory rat in several earlier studies had direct homologs in the brain of the highveld gerbil. Moreover, there were no additional nuclei in the brain of the highveld gerbil that are not found in the laboratory rat. The only discernable difference between the two species was a greater density and number of catecholaminergic neurons in the olfactory bulb of the highveld gerbil. Thus, the evolution of nuclear parcellation in these systems appears to demonstrate a form of phylogenetic constraint related to the order Rodentia.


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


Journal of Chemical Neuroanatomy