Baier, H., Rotter, S., and Korsching, S. (1994) Connectional topography in the zebrafish olfactory system: random positions but regular spacing of sensory neurons projecting to an individual glomerulus. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA. 91:11646-11650.
It is unknown how neuronal connections are specified in the olfactory system. To define rules of connectivity in this system, we investigated whether the projection of sensory neurons from the olfactory epithelium to the olfactory bulb is topographically ordered. By backtracking with 1,1'-dioctadecyl- 3,3,3',3'-tetramethylindocarbocyanine perchlorate (DiI), we find that neurons projecting into a single identified glomerulus are widely dispersed over the olfactory epithelium. Their positions in the sensory surface do not predict their glomerulus specificity and are probably random. A statistical analysis reveals that neurons connected to the same glomerulus are spaced at distances of several cell diameters from each other. The convergence of projections to one point in the target area from neurons that are widely and evenly distributed in the sensory surface constitutes an unusual type of connectional topography that contrasts with the precise topological (neighborhood-preserving) maps found in other sensory systems. It may maximize the probability to detect odorants that activate a single glomerular unit.