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Identification of a pheromone that transmits danger signals in rats

Pheromone increases anxiety in other rats

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Graduate School of Agricultural and Life Sciences / Faculty of Agriculture
2015/01/05

Animals release specific odors into the air when they are stressed, and these odors increase anxiety in conspecifics. These alarm odors or alarm pheromones appear to be important signals that are evolutionarily conserved because they are released by a variety of mammalian species, including rats, deer, cattle, swine, and humans.

© 2014 Yukari Takeuchi. A pheromone that transmits danger signals in rats is released from the perianal region, and increases anxiety in other rats.

© 2014 Yukari Takeuchi.
A pheromone that transmits danger signals in rats is released from the perianal region, and increases anxiety in other rats.

A research team led by the Professor Yuji Mori*, Associate Professor Yukari Takeuchi, and Assistant Professor Yasushi Kiyokawa in the Graduate School of Agricultural and Life Sciences at the University of Tokyo has identified a mixture of 4-methylpentanal and hexanal in the rat alarm odor and demonstrated that this mixture is a pheromone increases anxiety in other rats. These compounds were isolated from the many substances released from the rat perianal region, and while they had no effect individually, in combination they increased anxiety in rats.

The results of this study identifying this pheromone could aid further research on rat pheromones, and enhance our understanding of chemical communication in mammals. In addition, these findings could help us develop new technologies using pheromones to control mammal pests.

* Professor Mori passed away on 17 September 2014.

Press release (Japanese)

Paper

Hideaki Inagaki, Yasushi Kiyokawa, Shigeyuki Tamogami, Hidenori Watanabe, Yukari Takeuchi, Yuji Mori,
“Identification of a pheromone that increases anxiety in rats”,
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences Online Edition: 2014/12/16 (Japan time), doi: 10.1073/pnas.1414710112.
Article link(Publication

Links

Graduate School of Agricultural and Life Sciences

Department of Animal Resource Sciences, Graduate School of Agricultural and Life Sciences

Laboratory of Veterinary Ethology, Department of Animal Resource Sciences, Graduate School of Agricultural and Life Sciences

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