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Title: Aquatic adaptation and the evolution of smell and taste in whales
Authors: Kishida, Takushi  kyouindb  KAKEN_id
Thewissen, JGM
Hayakawa, Takashi  kyouindb  KAKEN_id
Imai, Hiroo
Agata, Kiyokazu
Author's alias: 岸田, 拓士
早川, 卓志
今井, 啓雄
阿形, 清和
Keywords: Antarctic minke whale genome
Olfactory bulb
Issue Date: Dec-2015
Publisher: BioMed Central
Journal title: Zoological Letters
Volume: 1
Thesis number: 9
Abstract: [Introduction]While olfaction is one of the most important senses in most terrestrial mammals, it is absent in modern toothed whales (Odontoceti, Cetacea). Furthermore, behavioral evidence suggests that gustation is very limited. In contrast, their aquatic sistergroup, baleen whales (Mysticeti) retain small but functional olfactory organs, and nothing is known about their gustation. It is difficult to investigate mysticete chemosensory abilities because experiments in a controlled setting are impossible. [Results]Here, we use the functional regionalization of the olfactory bulb (OB) to identify the loss of specific olfactory functions in mysticetes. We provide the whole-genome sequence of a mysticete and show that mysticetes lack the dorsal domain of the OB, an area known to induce innate avoidance behavior against odors of predators and spoiled foods. Genomic and fossil data suggest that mysticetes lost the dorsal domain of the OB before the Odontoceti-Mysticeti split. Furthermore, we found that all modern cetaceans are revealed to have lost the functional taste receptors. [Conclusion]These results strongly indicate that profound changes in the chemosensory capabilities had occurred in the cetacean lineage during the period when ancestral whales migrated from land to water.
Description: 鯨類の化学感覚能力の一端を解明. 京都大学プレスリリース. 2015-03-05.
Rights: © 2015 Kishida et al.; licensee BioMed Central.
This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly credited. The Creative Commons Public Domain Dedication waiver ( applies to the data made available in this article, unless otherwise stated.
DOI(Published Version): 10.1186/s40851-014-0002-z
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