Quantitative and morphological data were obtained on developing olfactory axons in the African clawed frog, Xenopus laevis, during late premetamorphosis (stages 48–54), prometamorphosis (stages 55–57), and halfway through metamorphic climax (stages 58–62). Larval axons throughout these stages of development did not change with respect to morphology or diameter and were similar in all respects to olfactory axons described in other vertebrate species. The number of axons in the olfactory nerve increased throughout development, more rapidly after stage 54. Based on comparisons of the number of axons in proximal and distal regions of the nerve, there also appeared to be more axons growing into the olfactory nerve at early metamorphic climax than during premetamorphosis. Through the onset of metamorphic climax, the number of olfactory axons was correlated with other measures of body growth. In the later stages of climax, however, the number of olfactory axons continued to rise, whereas body weight, length, and width, as well as olfactory nerve length, decreased. Not all animals developed at the same rate, but for all quantitative measurements in this study, stage was a better predictor of any given parameter than age of the animal. Rearing conditions affected the rate of development but did not have a significant effect on most of the features analyzed quantitatively. Although most of the new olfactory axons in these larval animals probably represent addition of fibers resulting from development, the ensheathing glial cells at all stages showed evidence of phagocytic activity, suggesting that there might be turnover of olfactory receptor cells during larval development. The results presented here provide a baseline for future reports on various factors that may influence normal development in this system.
- quantitative analysis
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