Chorda tympani innervation of anterior mandibular taste buds in the chicken (Gallus gallus domesticus)

Judith R. Ganchrow*, Donald Ganchrow, Miriam Oppenheimer

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


While the mammalian chorda tympani innervates taste buds on the anterior two‐thirds of the tongue, the chorda tympani of chickens does not enter the tongue, but rather is reported to supply the oral epithelium of the lower beak subjacent to the tongue. This study in the chicken investigated whether the integrity of taste buds in the lower beak is normally dependent upon innervation by the chorda tympani. Following unilateral ligation and removal of a large section of the chorda tympani, animals were sacrificed at 11, 14, and 21 days postoperatively. Oral tissue between the lingual frenulum and beak tip was serially examined, and the presence of each bud was recorded, noting the point at which the bud opened into the oral cavity. No buds were observed on the operated side in any of the cases, while the average bud count on the unoperated side was 33 ± 10 (SD). On the unoperated side, taste buds were generally associated with anterior mandibular salivary gland ducts that reached surface epithelium and opened into the oral cavity. On the operated side, the cellular organization adjacent to gland ducts and in duct‐free epithelium appeared as in control (i.e., bud‐free) epithelium. The number of salivary gland duct openings into the oral cavity was equivalent on the operated and control sides. It is concluded that the chorda tympani of chickens innervates taste buds in the anterior lower beak epithelium and that it functions to maintain the structural integrity of these buds.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)434-439
Number of pages6
JournalAnatomical Record
Issue number3
StatePublished - Nov 1986


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