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Journal of Chemical Ecology

, Volume 34, Issue 3, pp 398–407 | Cite as

Potential Chemosignals in the Anogenital Gland Secretion of Giant Pandas, Ailuropoda melanoleuca, Associated with Sex and Individual Identity

  • Jian-Xu Zhang
  • Dingzhen Liu
  • Lixing Sun
  • Rongping Wei
  • Guiquan Zhang
  • Honglin Wu
  • Hemin Zhang
  • Chenghua Zhao
Article

Abstract

With a combination of dichloromethane extraction and analysis by gas chromatography–mass spectrometry (GC-MS), we found 39 compounds (corresponding to 38 GC peaks) in the anogenital gland secretion (AGS) of captive adult giant pandas, Ailuropoda melanoleuca, during the non-mating season. In addition to indole, squalene, and some of the straight-chain fatty acids that had been characterized previously from the AGS of giant pandas, we identified several new compounds such as decenal, two isomers of decadienal, phenylacetic acid, 5-methylhydantoin, hydroquinone, phenylpropanoic acid, and erucic acid. Quantitative comparison of the relative abundances of the 20 main GC peaks revealed that 5-methylhydantoin, indole, and erucic acid are putative female pheromones, whereas squalene and hydroquinone are putative male pheromones. In addition to the presence of a few individual-specific compounds, the relative abundances of most of the 21 constituents varied more among individuals than within individuals. This suggests that individual identity might be coded in both digital and analog form. The chemical composition of different AGS samples from the same pandas consistently displayed a minimum cluster distance, much smaller than that between samples from different individuals in a hierarchical linkage cluster (average linkage) dendrogram. Our results indicate that the AGS might contain an “odor fingerprint.” Although putative sex pheromones such as squalene and erucic acid should be assessed further by bioassay, our study suggests that synthetic chemosignals might be useful in modulating the behavior and physiology of giant pandas.

Keywords

Ailuropoda melanoleuca Anogenital gland secretions (AGS) Giant panda Individuality Pheromone Sex Sex specificity 

Notes

Acknowledgments

We are grateful to Dr. Steven J Seybold and the anonymous reviewers who gave us many helpful suggestions and comments. This work was supported by grants from NSFC (Nos. 30470233 and 30670268); International Cooperative Giant Panda Projects of State Forestry Administration, China (nos. WH0306 and WH0309) and International Partnership Project of Innovative Research, Chinese Academy of Science (CXTDS2005-4).

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jian-Xu Zhang
    • 1
  • Dingzhen Liu
    • 2
  • Lixing Sun
    • 3
  • Rongping Wei
    • 4
  • Guiquan Zhang
    • 4
  • Honglin Wu
    • 4
  • Hemin Zhang
    • 4
  • Chenghua Zhao
    • 1
  1. 1.State Key Laboratory of Integrated Management of Pest Insects and Rodents in Agriculture, Institute of ZoologyChinese Academy of SciencesBeijingChina
  2. 2.MOE, Key Laboratory of Biodiversity Science and Ecological Engineering, Institute of EcologyBeijing Normal UniversityBeijingChina
  3. 3.Department of Biological SciencesCentral Washington UniversityEllensburgUSA
  4. 4.Key Laboratory for Reproduction and Conservation Genetics of Endangered Wildlife of Sichuan ProvinceChina Conservation and Research Center for the Giant PandaWolongChina

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