Olfactory Reception in Invertebrates

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Science  22 Oct 1999:
Vol. 286, Issue 5440, pp. 720-723
DOI: 10.1126/science.286.5440.720

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Recent progress in understanding the principles and mechanisms in olfaction is the result of multidisciplinary research efforts that explored chemosensation by using a variety of model organisms. Studies on invertebrates, notably nematodes, insects, and crustaceans, to which diverse experimental approaches can be applied, have greatly helped elucidate various aspects of olfactory signaling. From the converging results of genetic, molecular, and physiological studies, a common set of chemosensory mechanisms emerges. Recognition and discrimination of odorants as well as chemo-electrical transduction and processing of olfactory signals appear to be mediated by fundamentally similar mechanisms in phylogenetically diverse animals. The common challenge of organisms to decipher the world of odors was apparently met by a phylogenetically conserved strategy. Thus, comparative studies should continue to provide important contributions toward an understanding of the sense of smell.

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