Document Detail

Frontalin: a chemical message of musth in Asian elephants (Elephas maximus).
MedLine Citation:
PMID:  12826539     Owner:  NLM     Status:  MEDLINE    
Musth is an important male phenomenon affecting many aspects of elephant society including reproduction. During musth, the temporal gland secretions (as well as the urine and breath) of adult male Asian elephants (Elephas maximus) discharge a variety of malodorous compounds together with the bicyclic ketal, frontalin. In contrast, teenage male elephants in musth release a sweet-smelling exudate from their facial temporal gland. We recently demonstrated that the concentration of frontalin becomes increasingly evident as male elephants mature. In the present study, we demonstrate that behaviors exhibited towards frontalin are consistent and dependent on the sex, developmental stage and physiological status of the responding conspecific individual. To examine whether frontalin functions as a chemical signal, perhaps even a pheromone, we bioassayed older and younger adult males, and luteal- and follicular-phase and pregnant females for their chemosensory and behavioral responses to frontalin. Adult males were mostly indifferent to frontalin, whereas subadult males were highly reactive, often exhibiting repulsion or avoidance. Female chemosensory responses to frontalin varied with hormonal state. Females in the luteal phase demonstrated low frequencies of responses, whereas pregnant females responded significantly more frequently, with varied types of responses including those to the palatal pits. Females in the follicular phase were the most responsive and often demonstrated mating-related behaviors subsequent to high chemosensory responses to frontalin. Our evidence strongly suggests that frontalin, a well-studied pheromone in insects, also functions as a pheromone in the Asian elephant: it exhibits all of the determinants that define a pheromone and evidently conveys some of the messages underlying the phenomenon of musth.
L E L Rasmussen; David R Greenwood
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Publication Detail:
Type:  Journal Article; Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't    
Journal Detail:
Title:  Chemical senses     Volume:  28     ISSN:  0379-864X     ISO Abbreviation:  Chem. Senses     Publication Date:  2003 Jun 
Date Detail:
Created Date:  2003-06-26     Completed Date:  2004-02-24     Revised Date:  2006-11-15    
Medline Journal Info:
Nlm Unique ID:  8217190     Medline TA:  Chem Senses     Country:  England    
Other Details:
Languages:  eng     Pagination:  433-46     Citation Subset:  IM    
Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, OGI School of Science and Engineering, Oregon Health & Science University, Beaverton, OR 97006-8921, USA.
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MeSH Terms
Aging / physiology
Behavior, Animal / drug effects
Bicyclo Compounds, Heterocyclic / pharmacology*,  urine
Elephants / physiology*,  urine
Pheromones / pharmacology,  urine
Sex Characteristics
Sexual Behavior, Animal / drug effects
Reg. No./Substance:
0/Bicyclo Compounds, Heterocyclic; 0/Buffers; 0/Pheromones; 28401-39-0/frontalin

From MEDLINE®/PubMed®, a database of the U.S. National Library of Medicine

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