Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Scent Of A Lobster

Date:
December 18, 2001
Source:
Office Of Naval Research
Summary:
No question about it… spiny lobsters aren’t pretty. Keith Ward, chair of ONR’s Biomolecular and Biosystems Science and Technology Group, doesn’t particularly like their looks either, but he knows their sense of smell is astounding. Researchers funded by Ward figure that a lobster’s extraordinary ability to sniff out all kinds of odor trails in the water is just what the Navy would like an unmanned vehicle to be able to do.

No question about it… spiny lobsters aren’t pretty. Keith Ward, chair of ONR’s Biomolecular and Biosystems Science and Technology Group, doesn’t particularly like their looks either, but he knows their sense of smell is astounding. Researchers funded by Ward figure that a lobster’s extraordinary ability to sniff out all kinds of odor trails in the water is just what the Navy would like an unmanned vehicle to be able to do.

Mimi Koehl at University of California, Berkeley and her colleagues are studying the small hairs on the lobsters’ olfactory antennules. They’ve discovered that these hairs can capture odors at very resolution, but they’ve yet to figure out exactly how that information gets to the lobsters’ brains.

Koehl, along with Jeffrey Koseff and John Crimaldi at Stanford placed a mechanical lobster rigged with fresh reallobster antennule in a tank and used fluorescent dye to simulate an odor plume. They illuminated the plume with a thin sheet of laser light to see just the slice of the plume that the lobster’s antennule encountered. The laser revealed that the plume was not just a diffuse cloud, but rather that it was made up of many fine filaments (about a millimeter wide) of swirling dye. A computerized motor reproduced the motion of a real lobster’s flicking antennule, and a high-speed camera caught the filaments of dye flowing into the chemosensory hairs when the lobster rapidly flicked its antennule. This sample of the odor plume stayed trapped between the hairs until the next rapid flick of the antennule cleared it out and replaced it with another. Apparently, with each flick of the antennule, a detailed map of the swirling filaments of odor in a plume is captured.

Work is now underway measuring the behavioral algorithms used by the crustaceans when their antennules encounter odor filaments. The next phase of the study will get neuroscientists involved who can relate odor concentrations in the hairs to electrical signals in the brain of the lobster.

“Our work capitalizes on a growing trend called biomimicry, ” says Crimaldi, who now continues odor research at the University of Colorado. “We use nature as a model for designing an engineered system. The lobster had millions of years to learn how to accomplish an exceedingly difficult task with relative efficiency, but hopefully we won’t take that long.”

“We now understand the mechanism that allows the chemosensory hairs to catch odor traces,” says Koehl. The big question now is how various crustaceans use the odor maps to locate the source of the odor. “Lobsters and other crustaceans are very successful at finding the sources of odors in the messy, turbulent water flow in the ocean. By understanding the physics, we gain insights for the design of man-made chemical-sensing antennae that can be used in the same kind of environments.”

Which is precisely why the Navy is interested spiny lobsters and their sniffing abilities…. “We expect that these studies will provide us with important clues about how we can best develop a new class of sensitive chemical sensors that the Navy needs in order to locate and identify unexploded ordnance in very shallow marine waters,” says Ward.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Office Of Naval Research. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Office Of Naval Research. "Scent Of A Lobster." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 18 December 2001. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2001/12/011218072745.htm>.
Office Of Naval Research. (2001, December 18). Scent Of A Lobster. ScienceDaily. Retrieved August 22, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2001/12/011218072745.htm
Office Of Naval Research. "Scent Of A Lobster." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2001/12/011218072745.htm (accessed August 22, 2014).

Share This




More Plants & Animals News

Friday, August 22, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Endangered Red Wolves Face Uncertain Future

Endangered Red Wolves Face Uncertain Future

AP (Aug. 22, 2014) A federal judge temporarily banned coyote hunting to save endangered red wolves, but local hunters say that the wolf preservation program does more harm than good. Meanwhile federal officials are reviewing its wolf program in North Carolina. (Aug. 22) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Farm Resurgence Grows With Younger Crowd

Farm Resurgence Grows With Younger Crowd

AP (Aug. 22, 2014) New England farms are seeing a surge in younger farm hands as the 'buy local' food movement grows across the country. (Aug. 22) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Drug Used To Treat 'Ebola's Cousin' Shows Promise

Drug Used To Treat 'Ebola's Cousin' Shows Promise

Newsy (Aug. 21, 2014) An experimental drug used to treat Marburg virus in rhesus monkeys could give new insight into a similar treatment for Ebola. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Terrifying City-Dwelling Spiders Are Bigger And More Fertile

Terrifying City-Dwelling Spiders Are Bigger And More Fertile

Newsy (Aug. 21, 2014) According to a new study, spiders that live in cities are bigger, fatter and multiply faster. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins