Published evidence suggests that inherent rhythmically active or “bursting” primary olfactory receptor neurons (bORNs) in crustaceans have the previously undescribed functional property of encoding olfactory information by having their rhythmicity entrained by the odor stimulus. In order to determine whether such bORN-based encoding is a fundamental feature of olfaction that extends beyond crustaceans, we patch-clamped bORN-like ORNs in mice, characterized their dynamic properties, and show they align with the dynamic properties of lobster bORNs. We then characterized bORN-like activity by imaging the olfactory epithelium of OMP-GCaMP6f mice. Next, we showed rhythmic activity is not dependent upon the endogenous OR by patching ORNs in OR/GFP mice. Lastly, we showed the properties of bORN-like ORNs characterized in mice generalize to rats. Our findings suggest encoding odor time should be viewed as a fundamental feature of olfaction with the potential to be used to navigate odor plumes in animals as diverse as crustaceans and mammals.

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