Pheromones in Vertebrates


Pheromones are chemical signals, released from a donor individual, that elicit a specific response in a recipient of the same species. They are generally classified into two types: releaser pheromones produce a relatively rapid, behavioural effect, while primer pheromones lead to longer term physiological or developmental changes in the recipient animal. The use of pheromones as a method of communication is widespread amongst organisms from bacteria to humans.

Keywords: primer pheromone; releaser pheromone; vomeronasal organ; puberty acceleration

Further Reading

Barrett J, Abbott DH and George LM (1990) Extension of reproductive suppression by pheromonal cues in subordinate female marmoset monkeys, Callithrix jacchus. Journal of Reproduction and Fertility 90: 411–418.

Barrett J, Abbott DH and George LM (1993) Sensory cues and the suppression of reproduction in subordinate female marmoset monkeys, Callithrix jacchus. Journal of Reproduction and Fertility 97: 301–310.

Novotny MV, Ma W, Weisler D and Zídek L (1999) Positive identification of the puberty‐accelerating pheromone of the house mouse: the volatile ligands associating with the major urinary protein. Proceedings of the Royal Society of London B 266: 2017–2022.

Sorenson PW (1992) Hormones, pheromones and chemoreception. Hara TJ Fish Chemoreception, pp. 199–228. London: Chapman & Hall

Stern K and McClintock M (1998) Regulation of ovulation by human pheromones. Nature 392: 177–179.

Stoddart DM (1990) The Scented Ape: The Biology and Culture of Human Odour. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Vandenbergh JG (1994) Pheromones and mammalian reproduction. In: Knobil E and Neill J (eds) The Physiology of Reproduction, 2nd ed., pp. 343–362. New York: Raven Press

Watson L (1999) Jacobson's Organ. London: Allen Lane, The Penguin Press.

Weller L and Weller A (1993) Human menstrual synchrony: A critical assessment. Neuroscience and Biobehavioral Reviews 17: 427–439.

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How to Cite close
Faulkes, Chris G(Apr 2001) Pheromones in Vertebrates. In: eLS. John Wiley & Sons Ltd, Chichester. [doi: 10.1038/npg.els.0001847]