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  • Strategy

Pheromone sends long-range signal: lamprey

Special glands in male sea lamprey gills help attract females from large distances by releasing a bile acid produced by the liver, which acts as a long-range sex pheromone.

"During the reproductive season male lampreys. which build nests in streams, exude a substance that draws females from long distances downstream. A team of biologists headed by Weiming Li, of Michigan State University, has identified this substance- a bile acid produced by the liver and probably released through the gills by special glands found only in breeding males." (Reebs 2002:28)
About the inspiring organism
Eel sucker
Petromyzon marinus Linnaeus, 1758
Common names: Great sea lamprey, Green lamprey, Green sea lamprey, Lamper, Lamprey, Lamprey eel, Marine lamprey, Nannie nine eyes, Nine eyes, Sea lamprey, Shad lamprey, Spotted lamprey, Stone sucker, Sucker

Habitat(s): Marine Neritic, Marine Oceanic, Wetlands
Learn more at
Some organism data provided by: FishBase
Organism/taxonomy data provided by:
Species 2000 & ITIS Catalogue of Life: 2008 Annual Checklist

Threat Categories LONG_LC IUCN Red List Status: Least Concern

Bioinspired products and application ideas

Application Ideas: Body washes, laundry detergents, dish soap. Mimicking compounds for lamprey control.

Industrial Sector(s) interested in this strategy: Cosmetic industry, cleaning products, pest control

Weiming Li's Laboratory
Weiming Li
Department of Fisheries and Wildlife, Michigan State University
Reebs, Stephan. 2002. Samplings. Natural History. 111(7):
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Li, W; Scott, A.P.; Siefkes, M.J.; Yan, H.; Liu, Q.; Yun, S.; Gage, D. 2002. Bile acid secreted by male sea lamprey that acts as a sex phermone. Science. 296: 138-141.
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