, Volume 14, Issue 1, pp 143-158

Novel, species-typical esters from preputial glands of sympatric voles,Microtus montanus andM. pennsylvanicus

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Abstract

Olfactory signals may facilitate species recognition between the sympatric voles,Microtus montanus andM. pennsylvanicus. In an effort to isolate and identify compounds that might contribute to such a chemical communication system, the preputial glands of those voles have been examined. Morphological examinations show both vole species possess preputial glands; however, the glands ofM. montanus are much larger than those ofM. pennsylvanicus. Gas Chromatographie analysis revealed that the preputial glands ofM. montanus contain a series of species-typical lipids that are not found inM. pennsylvanicus. Using gas chromatography-mass spectrometry and nuclear magnetic resonance spectrometry, the species-typical lipids were identified as esters of branched, saturated, and unsaturated C5 and C4 alcohols and straight-chain C16, and “iso” branched C17 fatty acids. This is the first description of such esters from mammalian tissues. The results are discussed relative to the possibility that the species-typical esters act as species recognition cues for the sympatric voles.