Journal of Chemical Ecology

, Volume 24, Issue 1, pp 13–22 | Cite as

Uric Acid: The Sperm-Release Pheromone of the Marine Polychaete Platynereis dumerilii

  • Erich Zeeck
  • Tilman Harder
  • Manfred Beckmann


In the marine polychaete, Platynereis dumerilii, reproductive behavior in the two sexes is synchronized by the consecutive discharge of male and female sex-specific pheromones. After the female releases the eggs into the free water column, immediate fertilization is achieved by several males circling around the eggs emitting sperm clouds. We report the isolation and identification of the sperm-release pheromone present in the coelomic fluid of sexually mature females. Each step in isolation was guided by bioassay. Isolation methods included extraction and solvent partitioning and separation methods included ultrafiltration and high-performance liquid chromatography. Uric acid was identified as the sperm-release pheromone that is discharged by the female with release of the eggs. The threshold concentration for sperm release by males was determined as 0.6 μM.

Sex pheromone sperm release egg release uric acid purine reproduction polychaete Annelida Platynereis dumerilii coelomic fluid 


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Copyright information

© Plenum Publishing Corporation 1998

Authors and Affiliations

  • Erich Zeeck
    • 1
  • Tilman Harder
    • 1
  • Manfred Beckmann
    • 1
  1. 1.Institute for Chemistry and Biology of the Marine Environment (ICBM) and Department of ChemistryCarl von Ossietzky-University of OldenburgOldenburgGermany

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