Journal of Neurocytology

, Volume 34, Issue 3–5, pp 183–208 | Cite as

Diversity in the olfactory epithelium of bony fishes: Development, lamellar arrangement, sensory neuron cell types and transduction components



In this study we use a taxon-based approach to examine previous, as well as new findings on several topics pertaining to the peripheral olfactory components in teleost fishes. These topics comprise (1) the gross anatomy of the peripheral olfactory organ, including olfactory sensory neuron subtypes and their functional parameters, (2) the ultrastructure of the olfactory epithelium, and (3) recent findings regarding the development of the nasal cavity and the olfactory epithelium. The teleosts are living ray-finned fish, and include descendants of early-diverging orders (e.g., salmon), specialized descendants (e.g., goldfish and zebrafish), as well as the Acanthopterygii, numerous species with sharp bony rays, including perch, stickleback, bass and tuna. Our survey reveals that the olfactory epithelium lines a multi-lamellar olfactory rosette in many teleosts. In Acanthopterygii, there are also examples of flat, single, double or triple folded olfactory epithelia. Diverse species ventilate the olfactory chamber with a single accessory nasal sac, whereas the presence of two sacs is confined to species within the Acanthopterygii. Recent studies in salmonids and cyprinids have shown that both ciliated olfactory sensory neurons (OSNs) and microvillous OSNs respond to amino acid odorants. Bile acids stimulate ciliated OSNs, and nucleotides activate microvillous OSNs. G-protein coupled odorant receptor molecules (OR-, V1R-, and V2R-types) have been identified in several teleost species. Ciliated OSNs express the G-protein subunit Gαolf/s, which activates cyclic AMP during transduction. Localization of G protein subunits Gα0 and Gαq/11 to microvillous or crypt OSNs, varies among different species. All teleost species appear to have microvillous and ciliated OSNs. The recently discovered crypt OSN is likewise found broadly. There is surprising diversity during ontogeny. In some species, OSNs and supporting cells derive from placodal cells; in others, supporting cells develop from epithelial (skin) cells. In some, epithelial cells covering the developing olfactory epithelium degenerate, in others, these retract. Likewise, there are different mechanisms for nostril formation. We conclude that there is considerable diversity in gross anatomy and development of the peripheral olfactory organ in teleosts, yet conservation of olfactory sensory neuron morphology. There is not sufficient information to draw conclusions regarding the diversity of teleost olfactory receptors or transduction cascades.


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© Springer Science + Business Media, LLC 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Cell and Developmental BiologyUniversity of Colorado Health Sciences Center at FitzsimonsAuroraUSA
  2. 2.Department of Biological SciencesUniversity of WindsorWindsorCanada

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