Biology open

Olfactory organ of Octopus vulgaris: morphology, plasticity, turnover and sensory characterization.

PMID 27069253


The cephalopod olfactory organ was described for the first time in 1844 by von Kölliker, who was attracted to the pair of small pits of ciliated cells on each side of the head, below the eyes close to the mantle edge, in both octopuses and squids. Several functional studies have been conducted on decapods but very little is known about octopods. The morphology of the octopus olfactory system has been studied, but only to a limited extent on post-hatching specimens, and the only paper on adult octopus gives a minimal description of the olfactory organ. Here, we describe the detailed morphology of young male and female Octopus vulgaris olfactory epithelium, and using a combination of classical morphology and 3D reconstruction techniques, we propose a new classification for O. vulgaris olfactory sensory neurons. Furthermore, using specific markers such as olfactory marker protein (OMP) and proliferating cell nuclear antigen (PCNA) we have been able to identify and differentially localize both mature olfactory sensory neurons and olfactory sensory neurons involved in epithelium turnover. Taken together, our data suggest that the O. vulgaris olfactory organ is extremely plastic, capable of changing its shape and also proliferating its cells in older specimens.