In this issue of Chemistry & Biology, Lazar and colleagues report an unexpected finding about pheromone transport in the Asian elephant, an endangered species of which only a few thousand individuals remain.
Female elephants communicate their readiness to mate by excreting a sex pheromone in their urine. Male elephants exhibit a range of responses to this pheromone, beginning with sniffing and "check and place" responses, where the male touches his trunk tip to the pheromone-loaded urine. Next, the male places the pheromone urine in his mouth, in a behavior known as flehmen, after which mating behavior typically ensues. The sex pheromone therefore has to travel through and survive a number of different environments, from serum to urine to mucus, for successful mating to occur. The authors have discovered that serum albumin, a ubiquitous vertebrate protein, plays an unexpected and multifaceted role as a shuttle that both protects and transports the pheromone. The authors reveal that elephant serum albumin (ESA) transports the pheromone from serum to urine and it extends the period of time that the pheromone remains available for detection in the environment, without actually masking the pheromone and hampering detection. Dissociation of the pheromone-ESA complex is induced by the low pH environment of the male elephant truck and enhances detection by producing a pulse of the volatile pheromone as the male elephant performs the characteristic flehmen behavior.
Use of albumin in urinary pheromone transport is distinct from other mammalian pheromone transport systems studied so far. Furthermore, the exploitation of albumin in pheromone transport complements the particular lifestyle of Asian elephants by reflecting the uniqueness of elephant anatomy, physiology, and behavior.
Heidi Hardman | EurekAlert!
The irresistible fragrance of dying vinegar flies
16.08.2017 | Max-Planck-Institut für chemische Ökologie
How protein islands form
15.08.2017 | Albert-Ludwigs-Universität Freiburg im Breisgau
Physicists at the University of Bonn have managed to create optical hollows and more complex patterns into which the light of a Bose-Einstein condensate flows. The creation of such highly low-loss structures for light is a prerequisite for complex light circuits, such as for quantum information processing for a new generation of computers. The researchers are now presenting their results in the journal Nature Photonics.
Light particles (photons) occur as tiny, indivisible portions. Many thousands of these light portions can be merged to form a single super-photon if they are...
For the first time, scientists have shown that circular RNA is linked to brain function. When a RNA molecule called Cdr1as was deleted from the genome of mice, the animals had problems filtering out unnecessary information – like patients suffering from neuropsychiatric disorders.
While hundreds of circular RNAs (circRNAs) are abundant in mammalian brains, one big question has remained unanswered: What are they actually good for? In the...
An experimental small satellite has successfully collected and delivered data on a key measurement for predicting changes in Earth's climate.
The Radiometer Assessment using Vertically Aligned Nanotubes (RAVAN) CubeSat was launched into low-Earth orbit on Nov. 11, 2016, in order to test new...
A study led by scientists of the Max Planck Institute for the Structure and Dynamics of Matter (MPSD) at the Center for Free-Electron Laser Science in Hamburg presents evidence of the coexistence of superconductivity and “charge-density-waves” in compounds of the poorly-studied family of bismuthates. This observation opens up new perspectives for a deeper understanding of the phenomenon of high-temperature superconductivity, a topic which is at the core of condensed matter research since more than 30 years. The paper by Nicoletti et al has been published in the PNAS.
Since the beginning of the 20th century, superconductivity had been observed in some metals at temperatures only a few degrees above the absolute zero (minus...
Researchers from the University of Miami (UM) Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science, the Italian Space Agency (ASI), and the Instituto Geofisico--Escuela Politecnica Nacional (IGEPN) of Ecuador, showed an increasing volcanic danger on Cotopaxi in Ecuador using a powerful technique known as Interferometric Synthetic Aperture Radar (InSAR).
The Andes region in which Cotopaxi volcano is located is known to contain some of the world's most serious volcanic hazard. A mid- to large-size eruption has...
16.08.2017 | Event News
04.08.2017 | Event News
26.07.2017 | Event News
16.08.2017 | Physics and Astronomy
16.08.2017 | Materials Sciences
16.08.2017 | Interdisciplinary Research