Curr Biol. 2017 Aug 7;27(15):R739-R743. doi: 10.1016/j.cub.2017.06.039.


The reality of invisible chemical signals, pheromones, between members of the same species was recognized long before they could be identified. Charles Darwin proposed that the breeding season sexual smells of male crocodiles, goats and other animals, too, could have evolved by sexual selection of the smelliest males through female choice. But it's not just sex. We now know that pheromones are used by species all across the animal kingdom, in every habitat, and in a wide range of biological contexts, from trail, alarm, and queen pheromones in social insects to the mammary pheromone produced by mother rabbits. Pheromones have provided fascinating examples of signal evolution. In some model organisms, such as moths, Drosophila, Caenorhabditis elegans, and Mus musculus, a complete signaling system can be genetically dissected, from the enzymes producing pheromones, perception by chemosensory receptors, through to the neural circuits processing the signals.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Humans
  • Pheromones / physiology*
  • Pheromones, Human / physiology


  • Pheromones
  • Pheromones, Human