Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Pheromone helps mice remember where to find a mate

Date:
December 13, 2012
Source:
University of Liverpool
Summary:
Scientists have found that male mice produce a pheromone that provokes females and competitor males to remember a preference for the place where the pheromone was previously encountered. The research shows that the pheromone stimulates very rapid learning of spatial cues associated with its location, so that females remember a preference for this location when they return to the area.

A female house mouse closely sniffs a male’s urine scent mark to detect the protein sex pheromone darcin, which induces her to remember the location of the male’s scent. The owner of the scent mark is just visible out of focus in the background.
Credit: Dr. Michael Thom

Scientists at the University of Liverpool have found that male mice produce a pheromone that provokes females and competitor males to remember a preference for the place where the pheromone was previously encountered.

Some animals, such as moths, use a sensitive tracking system to trace airborne sex pheromones to the source, while others, such as snakes, follow trails of pheromones left on the ground. A team from the University's Institute of Integrative Biology has discovered that mice use a different system to locate mates and competitors by remembering exactly where they have encountered a male sex pheromone called darcin.

Instinctively attracted

Darcin is a small protein in the urine scent marks of male mice. Although not detected from a distance, females that explore scent-marked areas are instinctively attracted to spend time near this pheromone when they come into contact with it.

The research, published in the journal Science, shows that the pheromone stimulates very rapid learning of spatial cues associated with its location, so that females remember a preference for this location when they return to the area.

Males use the same mechanism to remember the location of rival male scents, making contact with darcin when they detect a male's scent that is not their own. The ability to remember and rapidly relocate sites scent marked by other males will help them to drive off rivals and to counter-mark with their own scent.

Dr Sarah Roberts, from the University's Institute of Integrative Biology, said: "We have shown that a male sex pheromone in mice makes females and competitor males remember exactly where they encountered the pheromone and show a preference for this site for up to two weeks afterwards. Given the opportunity, they will find that same place again, even if they encountered the scent only once and the scent is no longer there."

Spatial map of attractive males

Professor Jane Hurst, who leads the University's Mammalian Behaviour and Evolution Group, explains: "This attraction to the place they remember is just as strong as attraction to the scent itself. Darcin, therefore, induces mice to learn a spatial map of the location of attractive males and their scents, to which they can easily return. This avoids the difficulty of having to detect specific scents from a distance and trace them to their source.

"Pheromones are used for sexual attraction and for advertising an animal's location in many species, particularly among mammals. It will be interesting to discover whether such highly potent associative learning is induced by pheromones in other species and to understand the brain mechanisms involved."

The research is funded by the Biotechnology and Biological Science Research Council (BBSRC) and the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC).


Story Source:

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


Journal Reference:

  1. S. A. Roberts, A. J. Davidson, L. McLean, R. J. Beynon, J. L. Hurst. Pheromonal Induction of Spatial Learning in Mice. Science, 2012; 338 (6113): 1462 DOI: 10.1126/science.1225638

Cite This Page:

University of Liverpool. "Pheromone helps mice remember where to find a mate." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 13 December 2012. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/12/121213142305.htm>.
University of Liverpool. (2012, December 13). Pheromone helps mice remember where to find a mate. ScienceDaily. Retrieved April 18, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/12/121213142305.htm
University of Liverpool. "Pheromone helps mice remember where to find a mate." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/12/121213142305.htm (accessed April 18, 2014).

Share This



More Plants & Animals News

Friday, April 18, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

The Great British Farmland Boom

The Great British Farmland Boom

Reuters - Business Video Online (Apr. 17, 2014) Britain's troubled Co-operative Group is preparing to cash in on nearly 18,000 acres of farmland in one of the biggest UK land sales in decades. As Ivor Bennett reports, the market timing couldn't be better, with farmland prices soaring over 270 percent in the last 10 years. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Flamingo Frenzy Ahead of Zoo Construction

Flamingo Frenzy Ahead of Zoo Construction

AP (Apr. 17, 2014) With plenty of honking, flapping, and fluttering, more than three dozen Caribbean flamingos at Zoo Miami were rounded up today as the iconic exhibit was closed for renovations. (April 17) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Change of Diet Helps Crocodile Business

Change of Diet Helps Crocodile Business

Reuters - Business Video Online (Apr. 16, 2014) Crocodile farming has been a challenge in Zimbabwe in recent years do the economic collapse and the financial crisis. But as Ciara Sutton reports one of Europe's biggest suppliers of skins to the luxury market has come up with an unusual survival strategy - vegetarian food. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Could Even Casual Marijuana Use Alter Your Brain?

Could Even Casual Marijuana Use Alter Your Brain?

Newsy (Apr. 16, 2014) A new study conducted by researchers at Northwestern and Harvard suggests even casual marijuana use can alter your brain. Video provided by Newsy
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:
from the past week

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