by Gheylen Daghfous, François Auclair, Felix Clotten, Jean-Luc Létourneau, Elias Atallah, Jean-Patrick Millette, Dominique Derjean, Richard Robitaille, Barbara S. Zielinski, Réjean Dubuc

Odor-guided behaviors, including homing, predator avoidance, or food and mate searching, are ubiquitous in animals. It is only recently that the neural substrate underlying olfactomotor behaviors in vertebrates was uncovered in lampreys. It consists of a neural pathway extending from the medial part of the olfactory bulb (medOB) to locomotor control centers in the brainstem via a single relay in the caudal diencephalon. This hardwired olfactomotor pathway is present throughout life and may be responsible for the olfactory-induced motor behaviors seen at all life stages. We investigated modulatory mechanisms acting on this pathway by conducting anatomical (tract tracing and immunohistochemistry) and physiological (intracellular recordings and calcium imaging) experiments on lamprey brain preparations. We show that the GABAergic circuitry of the olfactory bulb (OB) acts as a gatekeeper of this hardwired sensorimotor pathway. We also demonstrate the presence of a novel olfactomotor pathway that originates in the non-medOB and consists of a projection to the lateral pallium (LPal) that, in turn, projects to the caudal diencephalon and to the mesencephalic locomotor region (MLR). Our results indicate that olfactory inputs can induce behavioral responses by activating brain locomotor centers via two distinct pathways that are strongly modulated by GABA in the OB. The existence of segregated olfactory subsystems in lampreys suggests that the organization of the olfactory system in functional clusters may be a common ancestral trait of vertebrates.

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