, Volume 46, Issue 1, pp 109–113 | Cite as

Chemistry of male dominance in the house mouse,Mus domesticus

  • M. Novotny
  • S. Harvey
  • B. Jemiolo
Research Articles


Two terpenic constituents, E,E,-α-farnesene and E-β-farnesene, were found to be elevated in dominant male urine when compared to subordinate or control males. These two urinary compounds were absent in the bladder urine of males; however, they were the most prominent constituents of the preputial gland's aliquots. The results of a two-choice preference test, conducted on ICR/Alb subordinate males, gave a strong indication that these two terpenic constituents introduced into the previously attractive stimulus significantly discouraged prolonged investigations by male mice. The compounds, whether present in the urine matrix or water, rendered the stimulus with a quality behaviorally similar to the urine of dominant males. It appears that they may be synonymous with the previously described aversion signal produced by dominant males. We suggest that these compounds may play a wide-ranging role in the territorial marking behavior of male mice.

Key words

preputial gland aversive stimulus submission-dominance mice olfactory preference farnesene chemosignals 


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Copyright information

© Birkhäuser Verlag 1990

Authors and Affiliations

  • M. Novotny
    • 1
  • S. Harvey
    • 1
  • B. Jemiolo
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of ChemistryIndiana UniversityBloomingtonUSA

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