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This is the main wiki page for leeches of the genus Hirudo. Hirudo species include Hirudo medicinalis, Hirudo verbana<ref>Until recently, most researchers did not distinguish between H. medicinalis and H. verbana because these species are very similar. See: Siddall ME, Trontelj P, Utevsky SY, Nkamany M, Macdonald KS (2007): Diverse molecular data demonstrate that commercially available medicinal leeches are not Hirudo medicinalis. Proc Biol Sci. 274(1617), 1481-7. PMID: [1]</ref>, and Hirudo orientalis <ref>Utevsky SY, Trontelj P, 2005. A new species of the medicinal leech (Oligochaeta, Hirudinida, Hirudo) from Transcaucasia and an identification key for the genus Hirudo, Parasitol Res. 98(1), 61-6. PMID: [2]</ref>.

You can learn more about the Neurobiology of the Leech at scholarpedia.org/article/Leech

This wiki is still under development, so it does not have many entries yet. If you would like to contribute to it, please register at NeuronBank.org.

A discussion of the Hirudo ontology has just been initiated by members of the leech community.

Leech nervous system

  • Leeches have 21 segmental mid-body ganglia plus head and tail ganglia located in a ventral nerve cord.
    • The head and tail ganglia consist of fused ganglia.
  • Ganglia in segments 5 and 6 have neurons involved in reproductive function because that's where the sex organs are located. So these ganglia have additional neurons.
  • The nerve cord is located within the ventral blood sinus.
    • There are two nerve roots that leave each ganglion and connect to the body wall.
  • Neurons are individually identified by soma location and by physiological properties.
  • There are 6 glial packets that surround the cell bodies of the neurons in the ganglia.


LeechGanglionVentral.jpg LeechGanglionPictureVentral.jpg LeechDorsal.jpg

Identified neurons

Here is a list of identified neurons in the leech nervous system. If you would like to add a neuron, please copy the format from the Leech Neuron Template.

A list of identified neurons is also available on Otto Friesen's website [3].