Grouping and representation of odorant receptors in domains of the olfactory bulb sensory map

Microsc Res Tech. 2002 Aug 1;58(3):168-75. doi: 10.1002/jemt.10146.


Individual glomeruli in the mammalian main olfactory bulb represent a single or at most a few types of odorant receptors. Thus the physical arrangement of glomeruli at the surface of the olfactory bulb can be viewed as a sensory map representing approximately 1,000 types of odorant receptors. This review summarizes the recent advance of the knowledge regarding the spatial organization of the sensory map in the main olfactory bulb. Recent studies show that individual olfactory bulbs contain dual sensory maps, one in the lateral hemisphere and the other in the medial hemisphere of the bulb. The tracings of selective subsets of olfactory axons to their target glomeruli in the olfactory bulb show that glomeruli are parceled into large zones or bands. The spatial arrangement of these zones and bands are stereotypical and conserved across individual mice. Optical imaging studies show that glomeruli in the most rostrodosal zone, zone I, are further parceled into smaller functional domains, and suggest that odorant receptors having a common or similar molecular feature receptive site are grouped together and represented by glomeruli within the functional domain. The possible relation between the functional domain organization and the subjectively perceived odor quality (olfactory submodality) is reviewed.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Axons / metabolism*
  • Brain Mapping / methods
  • Odorants
  • Olfactory Bulb / cytology
  • Olfactory Bulb / metabolism*
  • Olfactory Bulb / physiology
  • Olfactory Receptor Neurons / physiology*
  • Receptors, Odorant / metabolism*


  • Receptors, Odorant