Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Bile salts: Sea lampreys' newest scent of seduction

Date:
October 7, 2013
Source:
Michigan State University
Summary:
Bile salts scream seduction -- for sea lampreys, that is. New research shows that bile salts, secreted from the liver and traditionally associated with digestive functions, are being used as pheromones by sea lampreys. The interesting twist, though, is that this scent has evolved as the invasive species' cologne of choice.

MSU researchers have identified a pheromone novel to sea lampreys, which could help control the invasive species.
Credit: Courtesy of MSU

Bile salts scream seduction -- for sea lampreys, that is.

New research at Michigan State University shows that bile salts, secreted from the liver and traditionally associated with digestive functions, are being used as pheromones by sea lampreys. The interesting twist, though, is that this scent has evolved as the invasive species' cologne of choice.

The evolution of bile salts from digestive aid to pheromone, featured in the current issue of the Proceedings of the Royal Society B, mirrors humans' adaptation of perfume.

"It's similar to how perfume has evolved in our society," said Tyler Buchinger, one of the lead authors and MSU doctoral student. "Perfume was first used to mask body odor due to a societal stigma against daily bathing. Today, in many cases, it exemplifies romance and is used to attract mates."

Bile salts, like perfumes and colognes, were not first used as sex signals. Their primary use is to process fats. Over many hundreds of years, though, they have evolved to become beacons of sexuality in addition to their digestive duties. The evolution of males emitting this pheromone appears to be a result of female lampreys' receiver bias, or their desire to mate sparked by the fragrance.

Since time travel is out of the question, Buchinger and Weiming Li, one of the lead authors and MSU professor of fisheries and wildlife, tested the evolution theory on silver lampreys, a species native to Michigan and recognized as a more-ancient species than sea lampreys.

The researchers demonstrated that sea lampreys and silver lampreys smell bile salts and acknowledge them as attractants. The difference, however, is sea lampreys become sexually active while silver lampreys do not.

In the field, sea lampreys and silver lampreys were drawn upstream by the smell of bile salts. Only the sea lampreys, though, swam in looking for love and ready to spawn.

Silver lampreys are one of four native lamprey species in Michigan; the others are the chestnut, American brook and northern brook. Knowing that a distinct scent affects an invasive species differently from the native fauna they are displacing is a research angle worth pursuing, Li said.

"This mating call is quite effective, and it has helped sea lampreys thrive," he said. "Knowing that bile salts cause sea lampreys to react differently than our native species, which have long been part of our ecosystem, could eventually lead to better ways to control sea lampreys."

Nick Johnson of the USGS Great Lakes Science Center also contributed to this research.

Li's work is funded in part by the Great Lakes Fishery Commission, National Science Foundation and MSU AgBioResearch.


Story Source:

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


Cite This Page:

Michigan State University. "Bile salts: Sea lampreys' newest scent of seduction." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 7 October 2013. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/10/131007105126.htm>.
Michigan State University. (2013, October 7). Bile salts: Sea lampreys' newest scent of seduction. ScienceDaily. Retrieved August 22, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/10/131007105126.htm
Michigan State University. "Bile salts: Sea lampreys' newest scent of seduction." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/10/131007105126.htm (accessed August 22, 2014).

Share This




More Plants & Animals News

Friday, August 22, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Drug Used To Treat 'Ebola's Cousin' Shows Promise

Drug Used To Treat 'Ebola's Cousin' Shows Promise

Newsy (Aug. 21, 2014) — An experimental drug used to treat Marburg virus in rhesus monkeys could give new insight into a similar treatment for Ebola. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Terrifying City-Dwelling Spiders Are Bigger And More Fertile

Terrifying City-Dwelling Spiders Are Bigger And More Fertile

Newsy (Aug. 21, 2014) — According to a new study, spiders that live in cities are bigger, fatter and multiply faster. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Lost Brain Cells To Blame For Sleep Problems Among Seniors

Lost Brain Cells To Blame For Sleep Problems Among Seniors

Newsy (Aug. 21, 2014) — According to a new study, elderly people might have trouble sleeping because of the loss of a certain group of neurons in the brain. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Ramen Health Risks: The Dark Side of the Noodle

Ramen Health Risks: The Dark Side of the Noodle

AP (Aug. 21, 2014) — South Koreans eat more instant ramen noodles per capita than anywhere else in the world. But American researchers say eating too much may increase the risk of diabetes, heart disease and stroke. (Aug. 21) Video provided by AP
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