Baier, H. and Korsching, S. (1994) Olfactory glomeruli in the zebrafish form an invariant pattern and are identifiable across animals. The Journal of neuroscience : the official journal of the Society for Neuroscience. 14:219-230.
Glomeruli are anatomical and possibly functional modules in the vertebrate olfactory bulb. We investigated the spatial arrangement of glomeruli in the olfactory bulbs of adult zebrafish (Brachydanio rerio). A solution of the lipophilic tracer Dil was injected into the nasal cavities. Axons of sensory neurons projecting from the olfactory epithelium into the bulb were traced anterogradely, thus labeling the whole population of glomeruli. The glomerular distribution was analyzed in detail by confocal laser-scanning microscopy. We find that a typical olfactory bulb contains a small number of about 80 glomeruli that have a stereotyped configuration in all animals investigated. All glomeruli exhibit bilateral symmetry. Twenty-two single glomeruli could be identified from animal to animal by their characteristic position and morphology. The remaining glomeruli either are embedded in glomerular plexus and therefore cannot be delineated reliably, or belong to a densely clustered subpopulation of on average 49 glomeruli in the dorsal olfactory bulb. No sexually dimorphic glomeruli were identified. To test whether glomerular constancy is specific for the zebrafish, we performed similar tracing experiments in the goldfish and found several indications for a similar invariance of glomeruli in this species. The remarkable stereotypy of this pattern is reminiscent of the insect olfactory system and has been demonstrated here for the first time in a vertebrate. It will now be possible to examine whether these identifiable glomeruli are functionally specialized in terms of odor processing. If so, zebrafish may emerge as a tractable model system for studies on olfactory coding.