Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

A Hint of Frog in the Air

24.01.2012
Macrolides are volatile pheromones from Madagascar frogs

Amphibians are at home in water, but can they also sense volatile compounds in the air? “Indeed they can,” reports Stefan Schulz. Working with colleague Miguel Vences and Ph.D. students Dennis Poth and Katharina Wollenberg at the University of Brunswick, he has found volatile pheromones in frogs from Madagascar. In the journal Angewandte Chemie, the scientists have now introduced various natural compounds that the frogs apparently use for communication.


“Anuran amphibians communicate primarily by means of acoustic, optical, and tactile signals,” explains Schulz. “In addition, they also seem to communicate through peptides and proteins that easily dissolve in water or on the water’s surface. There have recently been indications that frogs may also respond to volatile signal compounds.”

Schulz and his co-workers have now examined frogs from Madagascar (Mantellidae), a very species-rich family of frogs from the rainforests. The males of one subspecies, the Mantellinae, form large characteristic glands on the undersides of their rear shanks.

The function of these glands was not previously known, but they could be related to pheromonal communication. Schulz and his colleagues now report a surprising discovery: “The glands contain volatile, nonpeptidic compounds that act as pheromones and are structurally related to volatile insect secretions.”

In the glands of the frog Mantidactylus multiplicatus, the researchers found two volatile main components, and demonstrated that the frogs react to both substances. One of the components is an alcohol, the other a macrolide, a ring-shaped molecule with an intramolecular ester group.

It is related to phoracantholide J, a component of the defensive secretion of the Australian beetle Phoracantha synonyma. However, the spatial arrangement of the atoms is different: the frog macrolide is the mirror image of the beetle molecule. For identification purposes, Schulz’s team developed a new synthetic route for the production of phoracantholide J that delivers enantiomerically pure products, either only the original version or the mirror image. Their method is also less complicated than earlier approaches.

The researchers found similar macrolides in the glands of related frogs. For example, in the species Gephyromantis boulengeri, they discovered a previously unknown macrolide that they named gephyromantolid A. “In fact, volatile compounds are widespread among the Mantellinae, but occur in species-specific mixtures,” says Schulz. “The volatile compounds could play a previously underrated role in species recognition over short distances in these very species-rich communities.”

This could explain the extreme degree of species diversity of frogs in the tropical rainforest. With over 100 species per region in Madagascar, chemical recognition of species could help to avoid failed pairings that lead to nonviable offspring. Such macrolides could thus have a significant influence on the speciation and evolution of tropical amphibians.

About the Author
Dr. Stefan Schulz is Professor of Organic Chemistry at the Technische Universität Braunschweig, where he is Director of the Institute for Organic Chemistry. His research interests include the chemistry of signal substances, natural materials chemistry, and environmental chemistry. He is particularly interested in the pheromones of insects, arachnids, reptiles amphibians, and bacteria.
Author: Stefan Schulz, Technische Universität Braunschweig (Germany), http://aks7.org-chem.nat.tu-bs.de/HTML/Mitarbeiter/aksss.html
Title: Volatile Amphibian Pheromones: Macrolides of Mantellid Frogs From Madagascar

Angewandte Chemie International Edition, Permalink to the article: http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/anie.201106592

Stefan Schulz | Angewandte Chemie
Further information:
http://pressroom.angewandte.org

Further reports about: Ambient Air Angewandte Chemie CHEMISTRY Frog Madagascar

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Making fuel out of thick air
08.12.2017 | DOE/Argonne National Laboratory

nachricht ‘Spying’ on the hidden geometry of complex networks through machine intelligence
08.12.2017 | Technische Universität Dresden

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Scientists channel graphene to understand filtration and ion transport into cells

Tiny pores at a cell's entryway act as miniature bouncers, letting in some electrically charged atoms--ions--but blocking others. Operating as exquisitely sensitive filters, these "ion channels" play a critical role in biological functions such as muscle contraction and the firing of brain cells.

To rapidly transport the right ions through the cell membrane, the tiny channels rely on a complex interplay between the ions and surrounding molecules,...

Im Focus: Towards data storage at the single molecule level

The miniaturization of the current technology of storage media is hindered by fundamental limits of quantum mechanics. A new approach consists in using so-called spin-crossover molecules as the smallest possible storage unit. Similar to normal hard drives, these special molecules can save information via their magnetic state. A research team from Kiel University has now managed to successfully place a new class of spin-crossover molecules onto a surface and to improve the molecule’s storage capacity. The storage density of conventional hard drives could therefore theoretically be increased by more than one hundred fold. The study has been published in the scientific journal Nano Letters.

Over the past few years, the building blocks of storage media have gotten ever smaller. But further miniaturization of the current technology is hindered by...

Im Focus: Successful Mechanical Testing of Nanowires

With innovative experiments, researchers at the Helmholtz-Zentrums Geesthacht and the Technical University Hamburg unravel why tiny metallic structures are extremely strong

Light-weight and simultaneously strong – porous metallic nanomaterials promise interesting applications as, for instance, for future aeroplanes with enhanced...

Im Focus: Virtual Reality for Bacteria

An interdisciplinary group of researchers interfaced individual bacteria with a computer to build a hybrid bio-digital circuit - Study published in Nature Communications

Scientists at the Institute of Science and Technology Austria (IST Austria) have managed to control the behavior of individual bacteria by connecting them to a...

Im Focus: A space-time sensor for light-matter interactions

Physicists in the Laboratory for Attosecond Physics (run jointly by LMU Munich and the Max Planck Institute for Quantum Optics) have developed an attosecond electron microscope that allows them to visualize the dispersion of light in time and space, and observe the motions of electrons in atoms.

The most basic of all physical interactions in nature is that between light and matter. This interaction takes place in attosecond times (i.e. billionths of a...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

See, understand and experience the work of the future

11.12.2017 | Event News

Innovative strategies to tackle parasitic worms

08.12.2017 | Event News

AKL’18: The opportunities and challenges of digitalization in the laser industry

07.12.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Midwife and signpost for photons

11.12.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

How do megacities impact coastal seas? Searching for evidence in Chinese marginal seas

11.12.2017 | Earth Sciences

PhoxTroT: Optical Interconnect Technologies Revolutionized Data Centers and HPC Systems

11.12.2017 | Information Technology

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>