The olfactory epithelium of teleost fishes contains ciliated and microvillous olfactory receptor neurons intermingled with supporting cells. Recently the crypt cell, a third type of olfactory receptor neuron (ORN), was described for two ostariophysans. This type of ORN bears apical microvilli as well as occult cilia extending into a crypt at the apex of the cell. The present study used scanning and transmission electron-microscopic methods to examine how widespread this cell type is in other groups of fish. We investigated the olfactory epithelia of 18 species, freshwater and marine, including various actinopterygian fish as well as 2 species of lungfishes belonging to the sarcopterygians. Crypt cells were detected in 13 species of actinopterygian fish, but in none of the sarcopterygian lungfishes. Crypt cells are present in basic as well as in highly derived actinopterygians. We conclude that crypt cells are a common feature of actinopterygian fish.
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