Studies of Chemoreceptor Perception in Mollusks

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The formation and operation of the peripheral nervous system can be observed and studied in mollusks using as an example the primitive chemoreceptor organ, the osphradium, which is connected to the visceral arch of the CNS and analyzes the physicochemical properties of water in the mantle cavity. Nerve recordings showed that the osphradium is sensitive to excess osmotic pressure, sodium chloride, and amino acids. In addition, the osphradium responds to the quality of the water in which the animal is living. The osphradium of the pond snail retains its ancient multisensory function, uniting the perception of various chemical and physical stimuli. Patch clamp recordings at fixed potential or current were used to study membrane currents in identified ganglion and receptor cells, associated with increases in the concentrations of Na+ and L-aspartate in the solution bathing the osphradium. The influx current appears to be a sodium and/or calcium current, and is not blocked by tetraethylammonium, while the efflux current is a potassium current, as has been shown for the taste cells of vertebrates.

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