By use of a flow dilution olfactometer, tritium-labeled odorants were presented through the external naris to the bullfrog's intact olfactory sac. After stimulation the animal was frozen in liquid nitrogen. The dorsal surface and eminentia of the olfactory sac were then removed and sawed into sections perpendicular to the long axis of the mucosal surface. Each section was dissolved in a tissue solubilizer and counted in a liquid scintillation system. The amount of radioactivity in each section was used to estimate the number of odorant molecules it sorbed. For tritiated butanol there was a significant decrease in radioactivity from the section containing the external naris to that overhanging the internal naris. The steepness of the gradient was unaffected by a rather large range of stimulus flow rates, volumes, and partial pressures. Only when these parameters were pushed to extreme physical limits did this gradient change significantly. When the stimulus was presented through the internal rather than the external naris, the butanol gradient reversed its direction, decreasing from the internal to external. Unlike butanol, tritiated octane presented through the external naris was rather evenly distributed among the mucosal sections. That is, octane showed no distribution gradient across the mucosa. These results complement previous electrophysiological data that suggested a "chromatographic-like" differential sorption of odorant molecules across the mucosa.

This content is only available as a PDF.