Bile Acid Secreted by Male Sea Lamprey That Acts as a Sex Pheromone

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Science  05 Apr 2002:
Vol. 296, Issue 5565, pp. 138-141
DOI: 10.1126/science.1067797

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We show that reproductively mature male sea lampreys release a bile acid that acts as a potent sex pheromone, inducing preference and searching behavior in ovulated female lampreys. The secreted bile acid 7α,12α,24-trihydroxy-5α-cholan-3-one 24-sulfate was released in much higher amounts relative to known vertebrate steroid pheromones and may be secreted through the gills. Hence, the male of this fish species signals both its reproductive status and location to females by secreting a pheromone that can act over long distances.

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