Journal of Chemical Ecology

, Volume 18, Issue 11, pp 2107–2115 | Cite as

Amino acid profiles and liposomes: Their role as chemosensory information carriers in the marine environment

  • J. Dudley Williams
  • Kim N. Holland
  • David M. Jameson
  • Reimar C. Bruening


Yellowfin tuna enhance their hunting success in the vast pelagic environment by using their sense of smell to detect intact (uninjured) prey that are beyond visual range. However, the olfactory cues that tuna use would normally face huge and rapid dilution in the open ocean. We demonstrate that these prey odors are complexed within biologically derived lipid structures that probably delay the dilution of the amino acids to subthreshold concentrations and provide persistent arousal and search cues for the tuna. This may be the first demonstration of an extracorporeal biological function for liposomes. Tuna may also form “chemical search images” to maximize feeding efficiency. We demonstrate that the amino acid profiles of various prey species are consistent over time and between schools, which makes the formation of search images feasible.

Key words

yellowfin tuna Thunnus albacares amino acid profiles liposomes olfaction search image lipid complexes 


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Copyright information

© Plenum Publishing Corporation 1992

Authors and Affiliations

  • J. Dudley Williams
    • 1
  • Kim N. Holland
    • 2
  • David M. Jameson
    • 3
  • Reimar C. Bruening
    • 4
  1. 1.Department of Molecular ScienceOxford UniversityOxfordEngland
  2. 2.Hawaii Institute of Marine BiologyCoconut Island, Kaneohe
  3. 3.Department of Biochemistry and BiophysicsUniversity of Hawaii at ManoaHonolulu
  4. 4.Shaman PharmaceuticalsSan Carlos

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