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Can the ratio of aromatic skeletons explain cross-species responses within evolutionarily conserved ostariophysan alarm cues? testing the purine-ratio hypothesis

Chemoecology. June; 162: 93-96

Can the ratio of aromatic skeletons explain cross-species responses within evolutionarily conserved ostariophysan alarm cues? testing the purine-ratio hypothesis

While the response to damage-released chemical alarm cues within the superorder Ostariophysi appears to be highly conserved across species, it is generally observed that the intensity of response to heterospecific alarm cues decreases with increasing phylogenetic distance. Recent studies have demonstrated that purine-N-oxides function as chemical alarm cues within Ostariophyian fishes and that the nitrogen-oxide functional group is conserved as the chief molecular trigger. According to the purine-ratio hypothesis, these cross-species differences may be due to the relative proportion of different carrier compounds associated with the nitrogen-oxide molecular trigger. To test this hypothesis, we exposed glowlight tetras (Hemigrammus erythrozonus, Characidae, Ostariophysi) to one of five synthetic stimuli (hypoxanthine-3-N-oxide (H3NO), pyridine-N-oxide (PNO) or mixed stimuli of 75 % H3NO-25 % PNO, 50 % H3NO-50 % PNO, or 25 % H3NO-75 % PNO), natural conspecific chemical alarm cue or a distilled water control. We quantified changes in shoal cohesion and vertical area use as species typical indicators of an antipredator response. As predicted, response intensity decreased as the ratio of hypoxanthine-3-N-oxide to pyridine-N-oxide decreased and the strongest response was to natural alarm cue. These results suggest that species-specific carrier compounds may account for the well-documented cross-species differences in the response to heterospecific alarm cues within phylogenetically related taxa.

Accession: 038040784

DOI: 10.1007/s00049-005-0333-5

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