EMBO Rep; auth.: group Benton

EMBO Rep. 2013 Oct;14(10):874-83. doi: 10.1038/embor.2013.140. Epub 2013 Sep 13.

The joy of sex pheromones.


Sex pheromones provide an important means of communication to unite individuals for successful reproduction. Although sex pheromones are highly diverse across animals, these signals fulfil common fundamental roles in enabling identification of a mating partner of the opposite sex, the appropriate species and of optimal fecundity. In this review, we synthesize both classic and recent investigations on sex pheromones in a range of species, spanning nematode worms, insects and mammals. These studies reveal comparable strategies in how these chemical signals are produced, detected and processed in the brain to regulate sexual behaviours. Elucidation of sex pheromone communication mechanisms both defines outstanding models to understand the molecular and neuronal basis of chemosensory behaviours, and reveals how similar evolutionary selection pressures yield convergent solutions in distinct animal nervous systems.