Reference Work Entry

Encyclopedia of Neuroscience

pp 1264-1269

Evolution of Olfactory and Vomeronasal Systems

  • Alino Martínez-MarcosAffiliated withFacultad de Medicina and Centro Regional de Investigaciones Biomédicas (CRIB) Universidad de Castilla-La Mancha
  • , Mimi HalpernAffiliated withFacultad de Medicina and Centro Regional de Investigaciones Biomédicas (CRIB) Universidad de Castilla-La Mancha

Synonyms

vomeronasal organ; Vomeronasal system (Accessory Olfactory system); Accessory olfactory system

Definition

The olfactory and vomeronasal systems (Accessory olfactory system) are the main nasal chemosensory systems in vertebrates. Both are composed of chemosensory epithelia, olfactory bulbs and olfactory- and vomeronasal-recipient (Vomeronasal-amygdala) structures in the basal telencephalon. The olfactory system is present in virtually all major groups of vertebrates, whereas the vomeronasal system is thought to first appear in amphibians.

Characteristics

Structure of the Olfactory and Vomeronasal Systems

The olfactory and vomeronasal systems are the primary nasal chemosensory systems in vertebrates. The olfactory system is sensitive to volatile airborne odorants, whereas the vomeronasal system is primarily sensitive to non-volatile molecules or volatile molecules bound to carrier (usually protein) molecules such as pheromones [1,2,3].

Among vertebrates ...

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