Differing behavioral and endocrinological effects of two female sex pheromones on male goldfish

Peter W. Sorensen, Norman E. Stacey, Katherine J. Chamberlain

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Ovulatory female goldfish sequentially release at least two sex pheromones: 17α, 20β-dihydroxy-4-pregnen-3-one (17,20βP) and a mixture of F prostaglandins (PGFs). This study sought to determine whether these pheromones have different endocrinological and behavioral actions and whether the PGF pheromone, which is released by spawning females, is responsible for increasing the gonadotropin (GtH) and milt (sperm and seminal fluid) levels of spawning males. Grouped and isolated males were exposed to combinations of these pheromones, food odor, and spawning and nonspawning females. 17,20βP stimuated GtH increases in both grouped and isolated males but had only minor effects on behavior; because its principal function appears to be physiological it may be considered a "primer" pheromone. In contrast, exposue to the PGFs elicited large increases in sexual behavior but increased GtH only when fish were exposed as groups; this pheromone's principal action appears to be behavioral and it should be considered a "releaser" pheromone. Although males had increased GtH and milt levels after 1 hr of spawning, males allowed to interact with nonspawning females also had elevated GtH; thus, behavioral interactions appear capable of elevating GtH in the absence of either pheromone. The existence of an independent behavioral mechanism which stimulates GtH was supported by the fact that males exposed to 17,20βP while spawning had GtH levels much greater than males exposed to Only one of these Stimuli.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)317-332
Number of pages16
JournalHormones and Behavior
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 1989

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
We thank Joe Dulka, Kei-Li Yu, and Carol Nahorniak for their help with the GtH RlAs and Dick Peter for his helpfulc riticism.This researchw as supportedb y the Alberta Heritage Foundation for Medical Research (P.W.S.) and the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (N.E.S.). The senior author was funded by the Minnesota Agricultural Experimental Station (contributionN o. 16.748)d uring the final write-up and analysis.


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