December 28, 2016

One of the most interesting things about olfaction is....

....its intimate relationship with evolution. In addition to being the largest gene family in mammals, the odorant receptor genes are some of the fastest evolving. This suggests that perception is being sculpted on rapid timescales to enable individual species to detect and respond to those specific scents that are most critical for their survival and reproduction. Dan Bear (along with Jean Marc Lassance and Hopi Hoekstra) recently wrote a great review on what we can learn about smell by looking at evolutionary dynamics in Current Biology, which can be found here. It is part of a great review issue on evolution and the nervous system - check it out!