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Journal of Comparative Physiology A

, Volume 182, Issue 1, pp 81–87 | Cite as

Twitching and quivering of the tentacles during snail olfactory orientation

  • M. Lemaire
  • R. Chase
ORIGINAL PAPER

Abstract

In Helix aspersa the posterior tentacles house a sensitive olfactory organ. We studied two types of tentacular movements, twitch and quiver. A twitch is a brief retraction (mean duration, 4.1 s); a quiver is a rapid lateral movement (350 ms) unaccompanied by retraction. We videotaped the tentacles while snails explored an open field. When an attractive odor source, linalool, was present at one side of the arena, the snails consistently moved towards it. By contrast, if only the carrier substance was present the snails moved in random directions. Twitching was 50 times more frequent during linalool trials than during control trials, while quivering was 1.4 times more frequent. Twitching increased steadily and dramatically as snails approached the linalool source and, in the temporal dimension, the maximum rate of twitching occurred when the snails arrived at the odor source. Quivers occurred at a fairly constant rate. Twitching is interpreted as a mechanism to remove odor molecules trapped in the liquid covering of the olfactory epithelium, thus resulting in better temporal resolution for olfactory perception. Quivering may be a mechanism to increase access of odor molecules to receptors by decreasing the boundary layer at the surface of the tentacle.

Key words Olfaction Gastropod mollusc Helix aspersa Boundary layer 

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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 1998

Authors and Affiliations

  • M. Lemaire
    • 1
  • R. Chase
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Biology, McGill University, 1205 Ave. Docteur Penfield, Montréal, Québec, H3A 1B1, Canada Tel.: +1-514 398-6422; Fax: +1-514 398-5069; e-mail: rchase@bio1.lan.mcgill.caCA

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