Garfish Olfactory Nerve: Easily Accessible Source of Numerous Long, Homogeneous, Nonmyelinated Axons

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Science  28 May 1971:
Vol. 172, Issue 3986, pp. 952-955
DOI: 10.1126/science.172.3986.952


The olfactory nerve of the garfish, Lepisosteus, is about 1 millimeter in diameter and about 20 centimeters long, depending on the size of the fish; it is easily prepared by breaking off successive scored segments of the rostrum. It consists of a relatively homogeneous population of about 107 nonmyelineated nerve fibers, each about 0.24 micrometer in diameter. In most other nerves each fiber is separated from all others by an enfolding Schwann cell, but in the olfactory nerve the fibers are directly in contact with one another in groups of several hundred fibers. The Schwann cell, not directly concerned with propagation of the nerve impulse, forms a thin layer at the periphery of the group and makes up a small proportion of the total cellular material. The volume of axon cytoplasm is about five times greater than that of Schwann cell cytoplasm, and the axon surface is about 30 times the Schwann cell surface. The ratio of surface to volume for axons of a typical olfactory nerve is about 5400 times that for the squid axon of the same diameter. The large proportion of axonal membrane recommends this nerve for use in chemical and physical studies of properties of axon membranes.