Some Observations on the fine structure of the olfactory epithelium in the domestic duck

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Summary

The fine structure of the olfactory epithelium of the domestic duck (Anser cinereus) has been examined and compared with the olfactory epithelium of other vertebrates, particularly the frog (Rana temporaria). In addition to the usual olfactory cilia, the terminal swellings of the olfactory receptors in the duck bear numerous short microvilli. The supporting cells of the epithelium do not secrete copious amounts of mucus as they do in the frog. The structure of the basal cells and of the glands of Bowman are briefly described.

It is concluded that the receptor microvilli could increase the free surface of a receptor dendrite by about 400% and that microvilli and cilia together may increase it by about 1000%. It is also concluded that as yet no phylogenetic pattern can be observed in the olfactory epithelia of various vertebrate groups.

Part of the results described in this paper were obtained by Dr. P. Graziadei at University College London while in receipt of a Medical Research Council grant. He is indebted to Prof. J. Z. Young for facilities provided in the Department of Anatomy. Dr. L. H. Bannister is grateful to the Spastic Society for the use of the electron microscope at Guy's Hospital Medical School. The authors wish to thank Prof. G. E. H. Foxon for reading the manuscript and for his valuable suggestions. The authors are grateful to Mr. D. L. Fleming for photographic help. This work was supported (in part) by a contract with the Division of Biology and Medicine, U.S. Atomic Energy Commission.