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Olfactory receptors are able to detect air-borne odour molecules that enter the nasal cavity and bind to olfactory receptors. The activation of olfactory receptors results in olfactory receptor neurons sending an impulse to the brain’s olfactory system.
The olfactory bulb is arranged in glomeruli defined by their olfactory receptor expression. The authors identify an olfactory receptor for fox odour, TMT, and show that activation of the glomerulus expressing that receptor in mice leads to immobility, but does not lead to other fear behaviours.
The range of odours that an insect can detect depends on its olfactory receptors. Here, the authors functionally characterize the olfactory receptor repertoire of the moth Spodoptera littoralis using the Drosophila empty neuron system and reconstruct the evolution of these receptors in the Lepidoptera.
As conversion of odor signals to a two-dimensional map of activated glomeruli in the olfactory bulb is the key to odor recognition, decoding and deorphanizing of odorant receptors in the olfactory map is of great interest. Two genome-wide techniques now offer the ability to pair any odorant with its receptors.