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Extreme sensitivity in an olfactory system

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Angioy, A., Desogus, A., Barbarossa, I., Anderson, P., & Hansson, B. (2003). Extreme sensitivity in an olfactory system. Chemical Senses, 28(4), 279-284. doi:10.1093/chemse/28.4.279.


Cite as: http://hdl.handle.net/11858/00-001M-0000-0014-5BFA-6
Abstract
We recorded olfactory-induced cardiac responses to evaluate olfactory response thresholds to behaviourally relevant odours in a moth. Specific antennal receptor neurons enable insects to detect biologically meaningful odours such as sex pheromones and host-plant volatiles. The response threshold values demonstrated here are well below anything earlier reported in any organism. A heart response was triggered by less than six molecules of the most efficient odours hitting the antennae of the insect. The behavioural significance of this extreme sensitivity most likely lies in the creation of awareness and readiness to respond behaviourally at higher concentration levels.