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J Morphol September 1, 2017; 278 (9): 1208-1219.

Quantitative comparative analysis of the nasal chemosensory organs of anurans during larval development and metamorphosis highlights the relative importance of chemosensory subsystems in the group.

Jungblut LD , Reiss JO , Paz DA , Pozzi AG .

The anuran peripheral olfactory system is composed of a number of subsystems, represented by distinct neuroepithelia. These include the main olfactory epithelium and vomeronasal organ (found in most tetrapods) and three specialized epithelia of anurans: the buccal-exposed olfactory epithelium of larvae, and the olfactory recess and middle chamber epithelium of postmetamorphic animals. To better characterize the developmental changes in these subsystems across the life cycle, morphometric changes of the nasal chemosensory organs during larval development and metamorphosis were analyzed in three different anuran species (Rhinella arenarum, Hypsiboas pulchellus, and Xenopus laevis). We calculated the volume of the nasal chemosensory organs by measuring the neuroepithelial area from serial histological sections at four different stages. In larvae, the vomeronasal organ was relatively reduced in R. arenarum compared with the other two species; the buccal-exposed olfactory epithelium was absent in X. laevis, and best developed in H. pulchellus. In postmetamorphic animals, the olfactory epithelium (air-sensitive organ) was relatively bigger in terrestrial species (R. arenarum and H. pulchellus), whereas the vomeronasal and the middle chamber epithelia (water-sensitive organs) was best developed in X. laevis. A small olfactory recess (likely homologous with the middle chamber epithelium) was found in R. arenarum juveniles, but not in H. pulchellus. These results support the association of the vomeronasal and middle chamber epithelia with aquatic olfaction, as seen by their enhanced development in the secondarily aquatic juveniles of X. laevis. They also support a role for the larval buccal-exposed olfactory epithelium in assessment of oral contents: it was absent in X. laevis, an obligate suspension feeder, while present in the two grazing species. These initial quantitative results give, for the first time, insight into the functional importance of the peripheral olfactory subsystems across the anuran life cycle.

PubMed ID: 28503895
Article link: J Morphol

Genes referenced: gnao1

Antibodies referenced: Gnao1 Ab2 Ncam1 Ab1

External Resources: GO Terms referenced: chemosensory behavior

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