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2 Publications

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    11/03/15 | Synaptic circuits and their variations within different columns in the visual system of Drosophila.
    Takemura S, Xu CS, Lu Z, Rivlin PK, Parag T, Olbris DJ, Plaza S, Zhao T, Katz WT, Umayam L, Weaver C, Hess HF, Horne JA, Nunez-Iglesias J, Aniceto R, Chang L, Lauchie S, Nasca A, Ogundeyi O, Sigmund C, Takemura S, Tran J, Langille C, Le Lacheur K, McLin S, Shinomiya A, Chklovskii DB, Meinertzhagen IA, Scheffer LK
    Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America. 2015 Nov 3;112(44):13711-6. doi: 10.1073/pnas.1509820112

    We reconstructed the synaptic circuits of seven columns in the second neuropil or medulla behind the fly's compound eye. These neurons embody some of the most stereotyped circuits in one of the most miniaturized of animal brains. The reconstructions allow us, for the first time to our knowledge, to study variations between circuits in the medulla's neighboring columns. This variation in the number of synapses and the types of their synaptic partners has previously been little addressed because methods that visualize multiple circuits have not resolved detailed connections, and existing connectomic studies, which can see such connections, have not so far examined multiple reconstructions of the same circuit. Here, we address the omission by comparing the circuits common to all seven columns to assess variation in their connection strengths and the resultant rates of several different and distinct types of connection error. Error rates reveal that, overall, <1% of contacts are not part of a consensus circuit, and we classify those contacts that supplement (E+) or are missing from it (E-). Autapses, in which the same cell is both presynaptic and postsynaptic at the same synapse, are occasionally seen; two cells in particular, Dm9 and Mi1, form ≥20-fold more autapses than do other neurons. These results delimit the accuracy of developmental events that establish and normally maintain synaptic circuits with such precision, and thereby address the operation of such circuits. They also establish a precedent for error rates that will be required in the new science of connectomics.

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    02/16/15 | Ultrastructurally smooth thick partitioning and volume stitching for large-scale connectomics.
    Hayworth KJ, Xu CS, Lu Z, Knott GW, Fetter RD, Tapia JC, Lichtman JW, Hess HF
    Nature Methods. 2015 Feb 16;12(4):319-22. doi: 10.1038/nmeth.3292

    Focused-ion-beam scanning electron microscopy (FIB-SEM) has become an essential tool for studying neural tissue at resolutions below 10 nm × 10 nm × 10 nm, producing data sets optimized for automatic connectome tracing. We present a technical advance, ultrathick sectioning, which reliably subdivides embedded tissue samples into chunks (20 μm thick) optimally sized and mounted for efficient, parallel FIB-SEM imaging. These chunks are imaged separately and then 'volume stitched' back together, producing a final three-dimensional data set suitable for connectome tracing.

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