Olfactory flow in the sea catfish, Ariopsis felis (L.): Origin, regulation, and resampling

Matthew A.l. Cox, Russell J. Garwood, Julia Behnsen, Jeremy N. Hunt, Luke J. Dalby, Graham S. Martin, James S. Maclaine, Zhijin Wang, Jonathan P.l. Cox

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The olfactory epithelium of the sea catfish, Ariopsis felis, is found on a pinnate array of lamellae (the olfactory rosette) housed within a nasal chamber. The nasal anatomy of A. felis suggests an ability to capture external water currents. We prepared models from X-ray micro-computed tomography scans of two preserved specimens of A. felis. We then used dye visualisation and computational fluid dynamics to show that an external current induced a flow of water through a) the nasal chamber and b) the sensory channels of the olfactory rosette. The factors responsible for inducing flow through the nasal chamber are common to fishes from two other orders. The dye visualisation experiments, together with observations of sea catfishes in vivo, indicate that flow through the nasal chamber is regulated by a mobile nasal flap. The position of the nasal flap – elevated (significant flow) or depressed (reduced flow) – is controlled by the sea catfish's movements. Flow in the sensory channels of the olfactory rosette can pass through either a single channel or, via multiple pathways, up to four consecutive channels. Flow through consecutive sensory channels (olfactory resampling) is more extensive at lower Reynolds numbers (200 and 300, equivalent to swimming speeds of 0.5–1.0 total lengths s−1), coinciding with the mean swimming speed of the sea catfishes observed in vivo (0.6 total lengths s−1). Olfactory resampling may also occur, via a vortex, within single sensory channels. In conclusion, olfactory flow in the sea catfish is regulated and thoroughly sampled by novel mechanisms.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)110933
JournalComparative Biochemistry and Physiology. Part A: Molecular & Integrative Physiology
Publication statusPublished - 5 Mar 2021


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