In chickens, the sensory organs for taste are the taste buds in the oral cavity, of which there are ∼240-360 in total number as estimated by scanning electron microscopy (SEM). There is not an easy way to visualize all taste buds in chickens. Here, we report a highly efficient method for labeling chicken taste buds in oral epithelial sheets using the molecular markers Vimentin and α-Gustducin. Immediate tissue fixation following incubation with sub-epithelially injected proteases enabled us to peel off whole epithelial sheets, leaving the shape and integrity of the tissue intact. In the peeled epithelial sheets, taste buds labeled with antibodies against Vimentin and α-Gustducin were easily identified and counted under a light microscope and many more taste buds, patterned in rosette-like clusters, were found than previously reported with SEM. Broiler-type, female-line males have more taste buds than other groups and continue to increase the number of taste buds over stages after hatch. In addition to ovoid-shaped taste buds, big tube-shaped taste buds were observed in the chicken using 2-photon microscopy. Our protocol for labeling taste buds with molecular markers will factilitate future mechanistic studies on the development of chicken taste buds in association with their feeding behaviors.
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