Document Detail

Limits of thermal sensation.
MedLine Citation:
PMID:  3193774     Owner:  NLM     Status:  MEDLINE    
The sensitivity of thermal receptors and responses is compared with thermal noise in receptor cells and with thermal signals in the environment. It is demonstrated that the most sensitive responses known are far less sensitive than is physically possible but sufficiently sensitive to detect the smallest signals likely to be present in the environment. Expressions for the minimal thermal gradients detectable by organisms moving through them are derived. Thermal fluctuations in a receptor over physiologically relevant times and distances are almost certainly less than 10(-6) degrees C. The most sensitive responses reported in any organism are about a thousand times larger. The thermal gradient present in soil is nearly always greater than 10(-3) degrees C/cm and it is probably higher in other environments. The suggestion that nematodes locate plant roots based on heat production is shown to be unlikely because the gradients produced are smaller than those from other causes. Bacteria, a slime mold, rattlesnakes, and mammals are discussed in addition to nematodes.
D B Dusenbery
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Publication Detail:
Type:  Journal Article    
Journal Detail:
Title:  Journal of theoretical biology     Volume:  131     ISSN:  0022-5193     ISO Abbreviation:  J. Theor. Biol.     Publication Date:  1988 Apr 
Date Detail:
Created Date:  1988-12-27     Completed Date:  1988-12-27     Revised Date:  2003-11-14    
Medline Journal Info:
Nlm Unique ID:  0376342     Medline TA:  J Theor Biol     Country:  ENGLAND    
Other Details:
Languages:  eng     Pagination:  263-71     Citation Subset:  IM    
School of Applied Biology, Georgia Institute of Technology, Atlanta 30332.
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MeSH Terms
Thermoreceptors / physiology*

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