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J Steroid Biochem Mol Biol. 1991;40(4-6):549-56.

Steroid glucuronides as male pheromones in the reproduction of the African catfish Clarias gariepinus--a brief review.

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Department of Experimental Zoology, University of Utrecht, The Netherlands.


After ovulation, female African catfish are strongly attracted by the odor of male conspecifics. This attraction depends on the presence of the seminal vesicle, a part of the male reproductive organs. Removal of the seminal vesicle illustrates this fact. A low dose of seminal vesicle fluid, added to the water, appears to be highly attractive for catfish which have ovulated. Fractionation of the fluid and testing of the different fractions shows that steroid glucuronides could be responsible for the attraction. These steroid glucuronides can be identified with gas chromatographic-mass spectrometric analysis. A mixture of glucuronides, prepared to resemble the composition of the seminal vesicle fluid, evokes a dose-dependent attraction. The most potent odorant, observed by measuring electrical responses from the olfactory epithelium and from the olfactory tract appears to be 3 alpha,17 alpha-dihydroxy-5 beta-pregnan-20-one-3 alpha-glucuronide.

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