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Interspecific activity of the sex pheromone of the European shore crab (Carcinus maenas)

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The recent identification of uridine diphosphate (UDP) as the female sex-pheromone in the European shore crab Carcinus maenas demonstrated not only the link between moult and pheromone production, but also how it may have evolved from a ‘simple’ metabolic byproduct. Consequently, it is expected to be present in other moulting crustaceans, thus raising issues involving species specificity of the female pheromone. Bioassays were conducted using synthetic pheromone (UDP, 10–3–10–4 M) to examine if it induced sexual behaviour in other crustacean species that are neither closely related nor occur in the same ecosystem. The snow crab, Chionoecetes opilio, and the yellowline arrow crab, Stenorhynchus seticornis, both belonging to a different superfamily (Majoidea) and occurring in different habitats than C. maneas (Portunoidea), displayed significant sexual behaviour towards UDP treated objects (p < 0.005). These and other examples demonstrate that the female sex-pheromone UDP is not species-specific but is present and active in some other decapod crustaceans.

Affiliations: 1: Department of Biological Sciences, Hull University, Cottingham Road, Hull HU6 7RX, UK;, Email:; 2: Maurice Lamontagne Institute, Fisheries and Oceans Canada, 850 Route de la Mer, C.P. 1000-Mont-Joli, Québec, Canada G5H 3Z4; 3: Department of Biological Sciences, Hull University, Cottingham Road, Hull HU6 7RX, UK


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