Anatomy and Embryology

, Volume 185, Issue 3, pp 281–289 | Cite as

A scanning electron microscopic study of the opossum nasal cavity prior to and shortly after birth

  • William J. Krause


The nasal cavities of opossums prior to and shortly after birth were examined by scanning electron microscopy. Numerous morphologically mature olfactory receptor neurons are observed in the dorso-rostralmost extent of the olfactory epithelium positioned adjacent to the opening of the nares in all prenatal stages and newborn animals examined. The remainder of the olfactory epithelium, occupying a more dorso-caudal position within the nasal cavity, is undifferentiated, and lacks morphologically mature receptor neurons. A short transition zone of stratified squamous epithelium lies between the epithelium lining the nares and olfactory epithelium. It forms an abrupt junction with the latter. The remainder of the nasal cavity in this group of animals is lined by a non-ciliated pseudostratified type (undifferentiated respiratory) of epithelium. By the end of the second postnatal week the morphologically mature olfactory epithelium is no longer observed in the vestibular area of the nasal cavity, which is lined by stratified squamous epithelium at this time. Mature receptor neurons are now observed within the olfactory epithelium lining the roof of the nasal cavity and covering the turbinates. The greater part of the nasal cavity is lined by a ciliated respiratory epithelium. It is proposed that the precocious differentiation of mature olfactory receptor neurons within the rostral-most extent of the olfactory epithelium just prior to birth is important in guiding the newborn young to the pouch.

Key words

Nasal cavity Development Olfactory epithelium Scanning electron microscopy Opossum 


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 1992

Authors and Affiliations

  • William J. Krause
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Anatomy and NeurobiologySchool of Medicine, University of MissouriColumbiaUSA

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