Journal of Chemical Ecology

, Volume 38, Issue 2, pp 135–144 | Cite as

A Sensitive Analytical Method for Quantifying Petromyzonol Sulfate in Water as a Potential Tool for Population Monitoring of the Southern Pouched Lamprey, Geotria Australis, in New Zealand Streams

  • Michael Stewart
  • Cindy F. Baker


The migratory southern pouched lamprey, Geotria australis, is a culturally important fish native to New Zealand. Anecdotal evidence suggests that populations of G. australis have declined from historic levels, and presently, this species is rare in many New Zealand rivers and streams. Migratory sea lamprey (Petromyzon marinus) use a pheromone mixture to locate suitable spawning sites. This mixture is comprised of three steroids: petromyzonol sulfate (PS), petromyzonamine disulfate (PADS), and petromyzosterol disulfate (PSDS). We examined the migratory pheromone mixture released by G. australis ammocetes and found that they excrete predominantly PS. PADS has been detected on some occasions in low concentrations, and PSDS either is not released, or is released in extremely low concentrations. By using a recently developed sensitive mass spectrometry method, we compared passive sampling techniques against more traditional active water sampling as methods for estimating lamprey populations in local streams. Passive sampling provided quantitative data for PS from all sites surveyed, with uptake rates of 0.3 to 45.7 pg/day observed. Conversely, active sampling returned only one positive result out of 19 samples, and with a method detection limit of 2.5 × 10-14 M, this suggests that concentrations of PS in these streams are either extremely low or variable. The combination of passive sampling and triple quadrupole mass spectrometry is a promising tool for monitoring of G. australis in New Zealand streams.


Migratory pheromone Petromyzonol sulfate Petromyzonamine disulfate Petromyzosterol disulfate Lamprey Passive sampling POCIS Mass spectrometry 



The authors thank Professor Peter Sorensen from University of Minnesota for PADS and PSDS standards, Dr Etienne Vermeirssen from EAWAG, Switzerland, for helpful discussions on passive sampling and for sending original configurations of Oasis and Triphasic POCIS and Empore C18 and SDB-RPS. The authors also thank Brenda Bartels (NIWA) for assistance in field trials and Terry Cooney (Hill Laboratories) for assistance with mass spectrometry.


  1. Alvarez, D. A., Petty, J. D., Huckins, J. N., Jones-Lepp, T. L., Getting, D. T., Goddard, J. P., and Manahan, S. E. 2004. Development of a passive, in situ, integrative sampler for hydrophilic organic contaminants in aquatic environments. Environ. Toxicol. Chem. 23:1640–1648.Google Scholar
  2. Alvarez, D. A., Stackelberg, P. E., Petty, J. D., Huckins, J. N., Furlong, E. T., Zaugg, S. D., and Meyer, M. T. 2005. Comparison of a novel passive sampler to standard water-column sampling for organic contaminants associated with wastewater effluents entering a New Jersey stream. Chemosphere 61:610–622.Google Scholar
  3. Baker, C. F., Stewart, M., Fine, J. M., and Sorensen, P. W. 2009. Partial evolutionary divergence of a migratory pheromone between northern and southern hemisphere lampreys. pp 845–846 in: Haro AJ, Smith KL, Rulifson RA, Moffitt CM, Klauda RJ, Dadswell MJ, Cunjak RA, Cooper JE, Beal KL, Avery TS, editors. Challenges for Diadromous Fishes in a Dynamic Global Environment. American Fisheries Society Symposium 69. Bethesda, Maryland.Google Scholar
  4. Fine, J. M., and Sorensen, P. W. 2005. Biologically relevant concentrations of petromyzonol sulfate, a component of the sea lamprey migratory pheromone, measured in stream water. J. Chem. Ecol. 31:2205–2210.Google Scholar
  5. Fine, J. M., Vrieze, L. A., and Sorensen, P. W. 2004. Evidence that petromyzontid lampreys employ a common migratory pheromone that is partially comprised of bile acids. J. Chem. Ecol. 30:2091–2110.Google Scholar
  6. Hoshita, T. 1985. Chapter 10 Bile alcohols and primitive bile acids. pp 279–302 in: Henry D, Jan S, editors. New Comprehensive Biochemistry: Elsevier.Google Scholar
  7. Hoye, T. R., Dvornikovs, V., Fine, J. M., Anderson, K. R., Jeffrey, C. S., Muddiman, D. C., Shao, F., Sorensen, P. W., and Wang, J. 2007. Details of the Structure Determination of the Sulfated Steroids PSDS and PADS: New Components of the Sea Lamprey (Petromyzon marinus) Migratory Pheromone. J. Org. Chem. 72:7544–7550.Google Scholar
  8. James, A. 2008. Ecology of the New Zealand Lamprey - A literature review. Department of Conservation, New Zealand.
  9. Jellyman, D. J., Glova, G. J., and Sykes, J. R. E. 2002. Movements and habitats of adult lamprey (Geotria australis) in two New Zealand waterways. New Zeal. J. Mar. Fresh. 36:53–65.Google Scholar
  10. Johnson, N., and Li, W. 2010. Understanding behavioral responses of fish to pheromones in natural freshwater environments. J. Comp. Physiol. A 196:701–711.Google Scholar
  11. Johnson, N. S., Yun, S.-S., Thompson, H. T., Brant, C. O., and Li, W. 2009. A synthesized pheromone induces upstream movement in female sea lamprey and summons them into traps. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA 106:1021–1026.Google Scholar
  12. Li, W., Scott, A. P., Siefkes, M. J., Yan, H., Liu, Q., Yun, S.-S., and Gage, D. A. 2002. Bile acid secreted by male sea lamprey that acts as a sex pheromone. Science 296:138–141.Google Scholar
  13. Li, W., Sorensen, P., and Gallaher, D. 1995. The olfactory system of migratory adult sea lamprey (Petromyzon marinus) is specifically and acutely sensitive to unique bile acids released by conspecific larvae. J. Gen. Physiol. 105:569–587.Google Scholar
  14. Li, W., and Sorensen, P. W. 1997. Highly independent olfactory receptor sites for naturally occurring bile acids in the sea lamprey, Petromyzon marinus. J. Comp. Physiol. A 180:429–438.Google Scholar
  15. Mcdowall, R. M. 2011. Ikawai: Freshwater Fishes in Maori Culture and Economy. Christchurch. Canterbury University Press. 872 p.Google Scholar
  16. Nordeng, H. 1971. Is the local orientation of anadromous fishes determined by pheromones? Nature 233:411–413.Google Scholar
  17. Nordeng, H. 1977. A Pheromone Hypothesis for Homeward Migration in Anadromous Salmonids. Oikos 28:155–159.Google Scholar
  18. Polkinghorne, C. 1997. Determining whether bile acids released by larval sea lamprey and other fishes may be functioning as species-specific migratory cues. M.S. dissertation. University of Minnesota.Google Scholar
  19. Polkinghorne, C. N., Olson, J. M., Gallaher, D. G., and Sorensen, P. W. 2001. Larval sea lamprey release two unique bile acids** to the water at a rate sufficient to produce detectable riverine pheromone plumes. Fish Physiol. Biochem. 24:15–30.Google Scholar
  20. Sorensen, P. W., Fine, J. M., Dvornikovs, V., Jeffrey, C. S., Shao, F., Wang, J., Vrieze, L. A., Anderson, K. R., and Hoye, T. R. 2005. Mixture of new sulfated steroids functions as a migratory pheromone in the sea lamprey. Nat. Chem. Biol. 1:324–328.Google Scholar
  21. Stewart, M., Baker, C., and Cooney, T. 2011. A Rapid, Sensitive, and Selective Method for Quantitation of Lamprey Migratory Pheromones in River Water. J. Chem. Ecol. 37:1203–1207.Google Scholar
  22. Stuer-Lauridsen, F. 2005. Review of passive accumulation devices for monitoring organic micropollutants in the aquatic environment. Environ. Pollut. 136:503–524.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.National Institute of Water and Atmospheric ResearchHamiltonNew Zealand

Personalised recommendations