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Elife. 2019 May 2;8. pii: e44791. doi: 10.7554/eLife.44791.

5α-cyprinol sulfate, a bile salt from fish, induces diel vertical migration in Daphnia.

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Aquatic Chemical Ecology, Department of Biology, University of Koeln, Koeln, Germany.
Department of Chemistry, University of Zurich, Zurich, Switzerland.


Prey are under selection to minimize predation losses. In aquatic environments, many prey use chemical cues released by predators, which initiate predator avoidance. A prominent example of behavioral predator-avoidance constitutes diel vertical migration (DVM) in the freshwater microcrustacean Daphnia spp., which is induced by chemical cues (kairomones) released by planktivorous fish. In a bioassay-guided approach using liquid chromatography and mass spectrometry, we identified the kairomone from fish incubation water as 5α-cyprinol sulfate inducing DVM in Daphnia at picomolar concentrations. The role of 5α-cyprinol sulfate in lipid digestion in fish explains why from an evolutionary perspective fish has not stopped releasing 5α-cyprinol sulfate despite the disadvantages for the releaser. The identification of the DVM-inducing kairomone enables investigating its spatial and temporal distribution and the underlying molecular mechanism of its perception. Furthermore, it allows to test if fish-mediated inducible defenses in other aquatic invertebrates are triggered by the same compound.


Cyprinus carpio; Daphnia magna; Rutilus rutilus; daphnia; diel vertical migration; ecology; kairomone; zooplankton

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