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The use of lectins as a non-invasive approach to the study of odour detection in mammals

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Kirner, A., Weiler, E., & Apfelbach, R. (1999). The use of lectins as a non-invasive approach to the study of odour detection in mammals. Behavioural Processes, 48(1-2), 89-99. doi:10.1016/S0376-6357(99)00069-8.


Cite as: http://hdl.handle.net/21.11116/0000-0005-BF67-1
Abstract
Olfaction is one of the most important sensory systems for many mammalian species. Yet, the extent to which olfactory stimuli control the behaviour of a specific species is difficult to establish. Traditionally, massive invasive techniques like destruction of the olfactory sensory epithelium or bulbectomy are applied to estimate the effect of olfactory stimuli. However, for behavioural research less invasive methods are required. Application of lectins to the olfactory epithelium seems to be a promising new approach to study the releasing effect of odours on behaviour. This new approach is demonstrated in 30 adult male Wistar rats for the lectins Concanavalin A, lotus tetragonolobus and wheat germ agglutinin. Rats were trained to detect low concentrations of ethyl acetate, 1-methyl naphthalene or methacrylic acid. The lectins applied to the olfactory mucosa had selective inhibitory effects on odour detection; in each case detection inhibition was reversible within 4–48 h after lectin application. These results provide behavioural evidence for odour-specific inhibition without destruction to the animal. This new approach is discussed with the traditional invasive techniques use to inhibit odour detection.