Escape responses to threatening stimuli are vital for survival in all animal species. Larval zebrafish display fast escape responses when exposed to tactile, acoustic, and visual stimuli. However, their behavioral responses to chemosensory stimuli remain unknown. In this study, we found that carbon dioxide (CO 2 ) induced a slow avoidance response, which was distinct from the touch-evoked fast escape response. We identified the gonadotropin-releasing hormone 3-expressing terminal nerve as the CO 2 sensor in the nose. Wide-field calcium imaging revealed downstream CO 2 -activated ensembles of neurons along three distinct neural pathways, olfactory, trigeminal, and habenulo-interpeduncular, further reaching the reticulospinal neurons in the hindbrain. Ablation of the nose, terminal nerve, or trigeminal ganglion resulted in a dramatic decrease in CO 2 -evoked avoidance responses. These findings demonstrate that the terminal nerve-trigeminal system plays a pivotal role in triggering a slow chemosensory avoidance behavior in the larval zebrafish. CO 2 avoidance is a fundamental behavior conserved across diverse animal phyla for survival. Koide et al. show that CO 2 elicits a distinct, slow avoidance response in larval zebrafish. Calcium imaging and surgical or laser ablation experiments reveal a crucial role for the terminal nerve or trigeminal system in mediating the CO 2 -evoked avoidance response.
Koide, T., Yabuki, Y., & Yoshihara, Y. (2018). Terminal Nerve GnRH3 Neurons Mediate Slow Avoidance of Carbon Dioxide in Larval Zebrafish. Cell Reports, 22(5), 1115–1123. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.celrep.2018.01.019