Partition of fish pheromones between water and aggregates of humic acids. Consequences for sexual signaling. | - CCMAR -

Journal Article

TitlePartition of fish pheromones between water and aggregates of humic acids. Consequences for sexual signaling.
Publication TypeJournal Article
AuthorsMesquita, RMRS, Canario, AVM, Melo, E
Year of Publication2003
JournalEnviron Sci Technol
Date Published2003 Feb 15
KeywordsAnimal Communication, Animals, Female, Fishes, Humic Substances, Male, Sex Attractants, Sexual Behavior, Animal, Water

High-molecular-weight suspended organic matter of soil and aquatic origins competes with water for the dissolution of relatively water insoluble organic substances. The same happens with microalgae and other organisms present in natural waters. Several pheromones, which play a specific role in the reproductive cycle of fish, are secreted to the water and are generally, if not always, molecules with hydrophobic or amphiphilic characteristics. The natural tendency of these pheromones to dissolve in suspended or deposited organic matter may cause their signaling function to be adversely affected. In this work we study the partition constants between water and organic reservoirs in suspension, Kh, of two fish pheromones, 4-pregnene-17 alpha, 20beta-diol-3-one (17,20beta-P) and prostaglandin F2alpha (PGF2alpha), and also of 4-pregnene-11beta,21-diol-3,20-dione 21-sulfate (21-P-sulfate), used as a proxy for sulfated steroid pheromones. Two types of organic reservoirs are employed: aggregates of suspended humic substances and negatively charged phospholipid vesicles. We find that the three compounds have high affinities for both types of aggregates. However, 17,20beta-P, with pKh = 4.4 +/- 0.2, is the only one for which we may predict a significant decrease in availability in consideration of the normal content of dissolved organic matter in natural waters. Also to be considered is the fact that a relatively large amount of pheromones is retained and may be released at an inopportune moment. How significant these phenomena are in nature is not as yet clear, considering the variety of habitats in which fish spawn and the little that is known about the nature and mode of action of pheromones.


Alternate JournalEnviron. Sci. Technol.
PubMed ID12636273
CCMAR Authors