Institution: Davidson College
Newly formed neurons must locate their appropriate target cells and then form synaptic connections with these targets in order to establish a functional nervous system. In the vertebrate retina, retinal ganglion cell (RGC) dendrites extend from the cell body and form synapses with nearby amacrine and bipolar cells. RGC axons, however, exit the retina and synapse with the dendrites of midbrain neurons in the optic tectum. We examined how visual stimulation influenced Xenopus RGC dendritic arborization. Neuronal activity is known to be an important factor in shaping dendritic and axonal arborization. Thus, we reared tadpoles in dark and light environments then used rhodamine dextran retrograde labeling to identify RGCs in the retina. When we compared RGC dendritic arbors from tadpoles reared in dark and light environments, we found no morphological differences, suggesting that physiological visual activity did not contribute to the morphological development of Xenopus RGC dendritic arbors.