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J Exp Biol. 1998 Nov;201(Pt 21):2913-25.

Structure and function of the vomeronasal organ.

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  • 1Department Biology, University of Oslo, Norway.


Many animals use their vomeronasal organs to gain direct and specific contact with chemical cues released by congeners and in biological fluids. These cues provide information about the physiological status of the emitter and facilitate or regulate social interactions such as sexual relationships. The present review gives a short description of the discovery of the vomeronasal organ and the pivotal findings of Jacobson. The distribution of the organ and its anatomy in some vertebrates are described. The mechanisms for stimulus entry and egress are discussed, and the findings that led to the appreciation of the vomeronasal organ in mammals as a main chemosensory organ for pheromones mediating reproductive status and inducing sexual behaviour are reported. The anatomical, biochemical and functional properties of the receptor neurones are described.

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