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Ryczko D, Charrier V, Ijspeert A, Cabelguen JM. Segmental oscillators in axial motor circuits of the salamander: distribution and bursting mechanisms. J Neurophysiol 104: 2677-2692, 2010. First published September 1, 2010; doi:10.1152/jn.00479.2010. The rhythmic and coordinated activation of axial muscles that underlie trunk movements during locomotion are generated by specialized networks in the spinal cord. The operation of these networks has been extensively investigated in limbless swimming vertebrates. But little is known about the architecture and functioning of the axial locomotor networks in limbed vertebrates. We investigated the rhythm-generating capacity of the axial segmental networks in the salamander (Pleurodeles waltlii). We recorded ventral root activity from hemisegments and segments that were surgically isolated from the mid-trunk cord and chemically activated with bath-applied N-methyl-D-aspartate (NMDA). We provide evidence that the rhythmogenic capacity of the axial network is distributed along the mid-trunk spinal cord without an excitability gradient. We demonstrate that the burst generation in a hemisegment depends on glutamatergic excitatory interactions. Reciprocal glycinergic inhibition between opposite hemisegments ensures left-right alternation and lowers the rhythm frequency in segments. Our results further suggest that persistent sodium current contributes to the rhythmic regenerating process both in hemisegments and segments. Burst termination in hemisegments is not achieved through the activation of apamine-sensitive Ca2+-activated K+ channels and burst termination in segments relies on crossed glycinergic inhibition. Together our results indicate that the basic design of the salamander axial network is similar to most of axial networks investigated in other vertebrates, albeit with some significant differences in the cellular mechanism that underlies segmental bursting. This finding supports the view of a phylogenetic conservation of basic building blocks of the axial locomotor network among the vertebrates.