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Mate or hibernate? That's the question worm pheromones answer
Date:7/24/2008

er pheromone. These chemicals signal worms to enter a hibernation phase when the food supply is low. Schroeder's hibernation pheromone and the UF-discovered mating pheromone were almost identical. Tests in worms revealed that mating pheromones also act as a dauer pheromones at high concentrations.

"It's like a bell-shaped curve," Edison said. "If (the pheromone level is) too low, it doesn't work. If you add more, you get a nice mating response. If it gets high, the mating response stops and they go into hibernation mode.

"It makes nice ecological sense that (one compound) could be doing both jobs," he added.

"But before this work, nobody in the whole history of C. elegans research had associated dauer formation with mating. Now these small molecules link the two behaviors."

Researchers have been trying to find C. elegans mating pheromones for a long time, said Piali Sengupta, Ph.D., a professor of biology at Brandeis University, who agreed that it makes sense that the mating pheromone has a dual role in causing hibernation.

"This opens up the field," Sengupta said. "This is just the beginning. There is going to be a lot more (research) coming out related to this."


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Contact: April Frawley Birdwell
afrawley@ufl.edu
352-273-5810
University of Florida
Source:Eurekalert

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