Smelling salt: calcium as an odourant for fathead minnows

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Dew, William A
Pyle, Gregory
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Calcium plays an essential role in olfactory sensory neuron function. Studies with fish have indicated that in addition to being involved in olfactory signalling, calcium is itself an odourant. In this study we used fathead minnows (Pimephales promelas) and employed two different techniques; electro-olfactography (EOG), a neurophysiological technique that measures olfactory acuity at the olfactory epithelium, and a behavioural choice assay using a trough maze. The results demonstrate that calcium and a known odourant L-arginine are cross-adaptive, that calcium induces an EOG response in a concentration-dependent manner, and that calcium induces a strong avoidance behaviour. The behavioural avoidance was also demonstrated to be olfactorydependent. Taken together, the results demonstrate that calcium is a potent odourant for fathead minnows. Being able to smell calcium may represent an ability to sense and avoid areas with significant changes in ionic strength, thereby avoiding physiological stress.
Sherpa Romeo green journal
Calcium , Olfaction , Electro-olfactography , Behaviour , Cross-adaptation , Fathead minnows
Dew, W.A. and G.G. Pyle. 2014. Smelling salt: calcium as an odourant for fathead minnows. Comparative Biochemistry and Physiology, Part A, 169: 1-6.