The vomeronasal organ of Lemur catta

Timothy D. Smith, Magdalena N. Muchlinski, Kunwar P. Bhatnagar, Emily L. Durham, Christopher J. Bonar, Anne M. Burrows

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations


The vomeronasal organ (VNO), also known as the Jacobson's organ, is a bilateral chemosensory organ found at the base of the nasal cavity specialized for the detection of higher-molecular weight (non-volatile) chemostimuli. It has been linked to pheromone detection. The VNO has been well studied in nocturnal lemurs and lorises, but poorly studied in diurnal/cathemeral species despite the large repertoire of olfactory behaviors noted in species such as Lemur catta. Here, the VNO and associated structures were studied microanatomically in one adult female and one adult male L. catta. Traditional and immunohistochemical procedures demonstrate the VNO epithelium consists of multiple rows of sensory neurons. Immunoreactivity to Growth-associated protein 43 (GAP43) indicates the VNO is postnatally neurogenic. In volume, the VNO neuroepithelium scales similarly to palatal length compared to nocturnal strepsirrhines. Numerous taste buds present at the oral opening to the nasopalatine duct, with which the VNO communicates, provide an additional (or alternative) explanation for the flehmen behavior that has been observed in this species. The VNO of L. catta is shown to be microanatomically comparable to that of nocturnal strepsirrhines. Like nocturnal strepsirrhines, the VNO of L. catta may be functional in the reception of high-molecular weight secretions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)229-238
Number of pages10
JournalAmerican Journal of Primatology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 1 2015
Externally publishedYes


  • Jacobson's organ
  • Olfactory
  • Pheromonal
  • Primates
  • Ring-tailed lemur

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Animal Science and Zoology


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