Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Newborn mice depend on mom's signature scent

Date:
October 4, 2012
Source:
Cell Press
Summary:
For newborn mice to suckle for the very first time and survive, they depend on a signature blend of scents that is unique to their mothers. The findings reveal that mom's natural perfume consists of odors emitted from the amniotic fluid, which served to nourish and protect those young mice before they were born.

For newborn mice to suckle for the very first time and survive, they depend on a signature blend of scents that is unique to their mothers. The findings reveal that mom’s natural perfume consists of odors emitted from the amniotic fluid, which served to nourish and protect those young mice before they were born.
Credit: Current Biology, a Cell Press Journal, Logan et al.

For newborn mice to suckle for the very first time and survive, they depend on a signature blend of scents that is unique to their mothers. The findings, published online on October 4 in Current Biology, a Cell Press publication, reveal that mom's natural perfume consists of odors emitted from the amniotic fluid, which served to nourish and protect those young mice before they were born.

That's not what researchers led by Lisa Stowers of The Scripps Research Institute expected to find. Earlier studies in rabbits showed that suckling depends not on a complex odor brew but on a pheromone, a singular chemical factor that triggers a characteristic behavioral response.

"Surprisingly, unlike the rabbit, we found no evidence of a classic pheromone in the mice," Stowers says. "Instead, we found that the pup 'learns' the individual scent blend of the mom. Every mom is likely to have a different signature odor." It can't be isolated and purified in the way a pheromone can.

The discovery reveals that even innate behaviors like suckling aren't necessarily hard-wired. Nursing mouse pups must learn the smell of mom. The behavior is primed by the unavoidable experience of the amniotic fluid before birth and the secondary experience of that odor blend at the mother's nipple immediately after birth.

The fact that newborn rabbits initiate suckling in a different way has evolutionary implications. "These results suggest that mammalian species have evolved multiple strategies to ensure the onset of this critical behavior," the researchers write.

The findings further suggest that other behaviors that appear to be innate might involve some hidden learning too. And, what does it all mean for us humans?

"Human pheromones have not been conclusively identified and their existence remains controversial," Stowers says, although humans can pick up on signature scents. "If the mouse can effectively use this mechanism to release such an important behavior, it is possible that signature odors underlie the release of other apparently innate behaviors; in mouse or even humans."

When it comes to breastfeeding, on the other hand, "our knowledge that mouse and rabbit each use a different mechanism to initiate suckling leaves plenty of room for humans to use an entirely different mechanism as well."


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Cell Press. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. DarrenW. Logan, LisaJ. Brunet, WilliamR. Webb, Tyler Cutforth, John Ngai, Lisa Stowers. Learned Recognition of Maternal Signature Odors Mediates the First Suckling Episode in Mice. Current Biology, 2012; DOI: 10.1016/j.cub.2012.08.041

Cite This Page:

Cell Press. "Newborn mice depend on mom's signature scent." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 4 October 2012. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/10/121004121542.htm>.
Cell Press. (2012, October 4). Newborn mice depend on mom's signature scent. ScienceDaily. Retrieved October 22, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/10/121004121542.htm
Cell Press. "Newborn mice depend on mom's signature scent." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/10/121004121542.htm (accessed October 22, 2014).

Share This



More Plants & Animals News

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Cadaver Dogs Aid Search for More Victims of Suspected Indiana Serial Killer

Cadaver Dogs Aid Search for More Victims of Suspected Indiana Serial Killer

Reuters - US Online Video (Oct. 21, 2014) Police in Gary, Indiana are using cadaver dogs to search for more victims after a suspected serial killer confessed to killing at least seven women. Linda So reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
White Lion Cubs Unveiled to the Public

White Lion Cubs Unveiled to the Public

Reuters - Light News Video Online (Oct. 21, 2014) Visitors to Belgrade zoo meet a pair of three-week-old lion cubs for the first time. Tara Cleary reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
'Cadaver Dog' Sniffs out Human Remains

'Cadaver Dog' Sniffs out Human Remains

AP (Oct. 21, 2014) Where's a body buried? Buster's nose can often tell you. He's a cadaver dog, specially trained to find human remains and increasingly being used by law enforcement and accepted in courts. These dogs are helping solve even decades-old mysteries. (Oct. 21) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
White Lion Cubs Born in Belgrade Zoo

White Lion Cubs Born in Belgrade Zoo

AFP (Oct. 20, 2014) Two white lion cubs, an extremely rare subspecies of the African lion, were recently born at Belgrade Zoo. They are being bottle fed by zoo keepers after they were rejected by their mother after birth. Duration: 00:42 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

More Coverage


The Smell of Mom: Scientists Find Elusive Trigger of First Suckling in Mice

Oct. 4, 2012 Biologists have solved the long-standing scientific mystery of how mice first know to nurse or suckle. This basic mammalian instinct, which could be a key to understanding instinctive behavior more ... read more

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Plants & Animals

Earth & Climate

Fossils & Ruins

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins