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Chemical come-on successfully lures lovesick lampreys to traps
Date:1/21/2009

EAST LANSING, Mich. A synthetic chemical version of what male sea lampreys use to attract spawning females can lure them into traps and foil the mating process of the destructive invasive species, according to Michigan State University scientists.

Pheromones, chemical scents used to attract a mate, are well-documented in the insect world. Weiming Li, MSU professor of fisheries and wildlife, has focused much of his career on the well-developed sense of smell of the sea lamprey. In 2002, after four years of painstaking research, Li and his team published results detailing their isolation and identification of the chemical that male lampreys use to attract females.

Li, doctoral student Nicholas Johnson and their team used the same techniques to develop a synthetic version of the pheromone and test one of its components as a lamprey control. Tiny concentrations of the synthetic pheromone component, called 3kPZS, was as effective as the pheromone release by males in attracting females over hundreds of meters, and wasn't affected by habitat conditions.

"The pheromone is expensive to synthesize," Li said, "but only a very small amount is needed for it to work successfully. It's very potent. Only a few hundred grams, less than a pound, would be used each year."

The research is published in the current issue of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

By luring fertile females to traps baited with synthetic pheromone, fishery managers could prevent them from mating and reduce lamprey populations. The synthetic pheromone also could be used to attract females for harvesting as a food fish. In France and Portugal, sea lamprey is considered a delicacy.

"The Great Lakes Fisheries Commission would like to deploy one new integrated pest management control method by 2010 as a milestone for its sea lamprey management program," Li said. "The commission considers regulating spawning and migrating behavior wi
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Contact: Weiming Li
liweim@msu.edu
517-432-6705
Michigan State University
Source:Eurekalert  

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