• migration;
  • olfaction;
  • salmonids

It has been hypothesized that salmonids use olfactory cues to return to their natal rivers and streams. The key components of the molecular pathways involved in imprinting and homing, however, are still unknown. Aquatic chemical cues are received through the nares and into the nasal cavity that contains a single olfactory organ, the olfactory rosette. The olfactory rosette contains sensory neurons, each of which is thought to express only one olfactory receptor. If odorants are involved in salmonid homing migration then olfactory receptors should play a critical role in the dissipation of information from the environment to the fish. Therefore, to understand the molecular basis for imprinting and homing in Atlantic salmon Salmo salar it is important to identify and characterize the repertoire of olfactory receptors in this species. The first public assembly of the S. salar genome was searched for genes encoding three of the superfamilies of fish olfactory receptors: V2R-like (olfc), V1R-like (ora) and main olfactory receptor (mor). A further six ora genes were added to ora1 and ora2, which had been described previously. In addition, 48 putative mors were identified, 24 of which appear to be functional based on their gene structures and predicted amino-acid sequences. Phylogenetic analyses were then used to compare these S. salar olfactory receptor genes with those of zebrafish Danio rerio, two pufferfish species Takifugu rubripes and Tetraodon nigroviridis, medaka Oryzias latipes and three-spined stickleback Gasterosteus aculeatus.