The lateral giant fibers of the tubificid worm, Branchiura sowerbyi: Structural and functional asymmetry in a paired interneuronal system Academic Article uri icon


  • Neuroanatomical and ultrastructural studies of the paired lateral giant nerve fibers (LGFs) in posterior segments of the tubificid worm, Branchiura sowerbyi, demonstrate that the fibers are 1) segmental in origin (two cell bodies per segment), 2) joined longitudinally and transversely to form an intersegmental syncytial network, and 3) surrounded by a myelinlike sheath. The LGFs are unique among paired giant fiber systems because of their extreme asymmetry, the diameter of the left fiber being several times greater than that of the right. Electrophysiological studies demonstrate that the small, right fiber has a high input resistance and, during mechanosensory stimulation, functions as the locus for LGF spike initiation. The larger, left fiber contributes by enhancing the speed of LGF spike conduction along the animal. One physiological benefit of this asymmetric arrangement may be optimization of escape reflex sensitivity to mechanosensory inputs.

author list (cited authors)

  • Zoran, M. J., Drewes, C. D., Fourtner, C. R., & Siegel, A. J.

citation count

  • 18

complete list of authors

  • Zoran, MJ||Drewes, CD||Fourtner, CR||Siegel, AJ

publication date

  • September 1988