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The evolution of pheromonal communication

Swaney, WT and Keverne, EB (2008) The evolution of pheromonal communication. BEHAVIOURAL BRAIN RESEARCH, 200 (2). pp. 239-247. ISSN 0166-4328

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Small-brained rodents have been the principle focus for pheromonal research and have provided comprehensive insights into the chemosensory mechanisms that underpin pheromonal communication and the hugely important roles that pheromones play in behavioural regulation. However, pheromonal communication does not start or end with the mouse and the rat, and work in amphibians reveals much about the likely evolutionary origins of the chemosensory systems that mediate pheromonal effects. The dual olfactory organs (the main olfactory epithelium and the vomeronasal organ), their receptors and their separate projection pathways appear to have ancient evolutionary origins, appearing in the aquatic ancestors of all tetrapods during the Devonian period and so pre-dating the transition to land. While the vomeronasal organ has long been considered an exclusively pheromonal organ, accumulating evidence indicates that it is not the sole channel for the transduction of pheromonal information and that both olfactory systems have been co-opted for the detection of different pheromone signals over the course of evolution. This has also led to great diversity in the vomeronasal and olfactory receptor families, with enormous levels of gene diversity and inactivation of genes in different species. Finally, the evolution of trichromacy as well as huge increases in social complexity have minimised the role of pheromones in the lives of primates, leading to the total inactivation of the vomeronasal system in catarrhine primates while the brain increased in size and behaviour became emancipated from hormonal regulation. © 2008 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: 11 Medical And Health Sciences, 17 Psychology And Cognitive Sciences
Subjects: Q Science > QL Zoology
Divisions: Natural Sciences & Psychology (closed 31 Aug 19)
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Date Deposited: 05 Jun 2015 13:22
Last Modified: 04 Sep 2021 14:18
DOI or ID number: 10.1016/j.bbr.2008.09.039
URI: https://researchonline.ljmu.ac.uk/id/eprint/1367
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