Skip to main page content
Access keys NCBI Homepage MyNCBI Homepage Main Content Main Navigation
, 106 (4), 1021-6

A Synthesized Pheromone Induces Upstream Movement in Female Sea Lamprey and Summons Them Into Traps


A Synthesized Pheromone Induces Upstream Movement in Female Sea Lamprey and Summons Them Into Traps

Nicholas S Johnson et al. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A.


Female insect pheromone blends induce robust tracking responses in males and direct them into traps. In vertebrates, pheromones that induce strong and precise tracking responses in natural habitats have rarely been described. Here, we show in the sea lamprey (Petromyzon marinus), a vertebrate invader of the Laurential Great Lakes, that a synthesized component of the male mating pheromone, 7alpha, 12alpha, 24-trihydroxy-5alpha-cholan-3-one 24-sulfate (3kPZS), when released into a stream to reach concentrations of 10(-14), 10(-13), 10(-12), 10(-11), or 10(-10) M, triggers robust upstream movement in ovulated females drawing approximately 50% into baited traps. Experiments conducted in diverse stream segments demonstrate the level of behavioral response was not affected by habitat conditions and is effective over hundreds of meters. 3kPZS is equally effective at luring ovulated females as the whole pheromone blend released by males between 10(-14) and 10(-11) M. 3kPZS diverts ovulated females away from and disrupts orientation to male washings when applied at concentrations higher than washings. Indeed, a single pheromone compound is able to redirect female sea lampreys away from a natural pheromone source and lure them into traps, which should be more effective than targeting males when applied in population control. Our findings may spur the discovery of other potent and environmentally benign agents to combat biological invasion, a process accelerated by globalization, exacerbated by climate change, and costing the global economy US$ 1.4 trillion of damage annually.

Conflict of interest statement

The authors declare no conflict of interest.


Fig. 1.
Fig. 1.
3kPZS-baited traps capture all females when compared with unbaited traps. Observed movements of individual ovulated females trapped when 3kPZS was applied at 10−11 M, 10−12 M, or 10−13 M in a randomly selected trap and when control solvent was applied in the other (TrapL and TrapR). Red lines illustrate ovulated females entering the left trap when the left trap was baited with 3kPZS. White lines illustrate ovulated females entering the right trap when the right trap was baited with 3kPZS. Green illustrates ground and black illustrates river.
Fig. 2.
Fig. 2.
Female movement tracks during 3kPZS disruption experiments. Synthesized 3kPZS was released 40 m upstream of a source of spermiated male washings (SMW) with natural 3kPZS at 10−12 M. Color scale illustrates estimated 3kPZS molar concentrations from both sources of 3kPZS throughout the stream. Background 3kPZS concentrations achieved when fully mixed with the stream discharge. (A) No 3kPZS background. (B) 3kPZS 10−12 M background. (C) 3kPZS 10−11 M background. (D) 3kPZS 10−10 M background.

Similar articles

See all similar articles

Cited by 35 PubMed Central articles

See all "Cited by" articles

Publication types


LinkOut - more resources