Science Inventory

Fishy aroma of social status: Urinary chemo-signaling of territoriality in male fathead minnows (Pimephales promelas)

Citation:

Martinovic-Weigelt, D., D. Ekman, D. Villeneuve, C. James, Q. Teng, Tim Collette, AND G. Ankley. Fishy aroma of social status: Urinary chemo-signaling of territoriality in male fathead minnows (Pimephales promelas). PLoS ONE . Public Library of Science, San Francisco, CA, 7(11):e46579, (2012).

Impact/Purpose:

Fathead minnows (Pimephales promelas) exhibit life history traits which may be conducive to evolution of systems that use chemical communication to confer information about an individual’s social status. Reproduction in males of this species is dependent upon their ability to acquire and defend a high quality nesting territory, and to attract a female to the nest. To investigate whether fathead minnows use urine-derived chemicals to signal territorial status we determined whether urine storage and release are responsive to territorial status and dependent on the social context, and whether metabolite composition of the urine is linked, and responsive to territorial status.First we assessed effects of territoriality acquisition on male-specific secondary sex characteristics, sperm and urine volumes. Second, we measured how frequencies of urination of males varied with a variety of social stimuli (alone, paired with a sexually mature female or male). To identify metabolites that are differentially excreted in the urine of territorial versus non-territorial males we used a NMR-based metabolomics approach. We demonstrated that expression of secondary sex characteristics, sperm abundance and urine quantity increase with the acquisition of territorial status in males, and thus reflect their resource holding potential. The finding that the patterns of urine release differ between territorial and non-territorial males, and are associated with female presence suggests that females are the main target of the putative urinary signals. Finally, metabolite composition of the urine was linked to, and responsive to both current and future territorial status. Bile acids emerge as putative chemical signals of social status.

Description:

Fathead minnows (Pimephales promelas) exhibit life history traits which may be conducive to evolution of systems that use chemical communication to confer information about an individual’s social status. Reproduction in males of this species is dependent upon their ability to acquire and defend a high quality nesting territory, and to attract a female to the nest. To investigate whether fathead minnows use urine-derived chemicals to signal territorial status we determined whether urine storage and release are responsive to territorial status and dependent on the social context, and whether metabolite composition of the urine is linked, and responsive to territorial status.First we assessed effects of territoriality acquisition on male-specific secondary sex characteristics, sperm and urine volumes. Second, we measured how frequencies of urination of males varied with a variety of social stimuli (alone, paired with a sexually mature female or male). To identify metabolites that are differentially excreted in the urine of territorial versus non-territorial males we used a NMR-based metabolomics approach. We demonstrated that expression of secondary sex characteristics, sperm abundance and urine quantity increase with the acquisition of territorial status in males, and thus reflect their resource holding potential. The finding that the patterns of urine release differ between territorial and non-territorial males, and are associated with female presence suggests that females are the main target of the putative urinary signals. Finally, metabolite composition of the urine was linked to, and responsive to both current and future territorial status. Bile acids emerge as putative chemical signals of social status.

Record Details:

Record Type: DOCUMENT (JOURNAL/PEER REVIEWED JOURNAL)
Record Released: 11/08/2012
Record Last Revised: 11/08/2012
OMB Category: Other
Record ID: 247475