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Journal of Chemical Ecology

, Volume 29, Issue 9, pp 2085–2100 | Cite as

Chemical and Olfactory Characterization of Odorous Compounds and Their Precursors in the Parotoid Gland Secretion of the Green Tree Frog, Litoria caerulea

  • Benjamin P. C. Smith
  • Michael J. Tyler
  • Brian D. Williams
  • Yoji Hayasaka
Article

Abstract

When stressed or challenged by a predator, the Australian green tree frog, Litoria caerulea, emits a characteristic nutty odor from its parotoid glands. This study identifies the source of the odor as the cyclic amide 2-pyrrolidone (2-PyrO). In addition, we demonstrate the presence of 2-PyrO's straight chain form, γ-aminobutyric acid or GABA, in the frog's glandular secretion and propose an odorant–precursor relationship. What role both compounds play in the frog's defensive strategy remains unknown. Prolonged exposure to the odor is shown to result in adverse effects that may be attributed to a GABAergic mechanism. It is our hypothesis, however, that the odor acts as an aposematic signal, indicating the toxicity of the frog's nonvolatile secretion.

Litoria caerulea odorous/volatile secretion nutty odor 2-pyrrolidone GABA 

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Copyright information

© Plenum Publishing Corporation 2003

Authors and Affiliations

  • Benjamin P. C. Smith
    • 1
    • 2
  • Michael J. Tyler
    • 1
  • Brian D. Williams
    • 2
  • Yoji Hayasaka
    • 3
  1. 1.Department of Environmental BiologyUniversity of AdelaideAdelaideAustralia
  2. 2.Department of Soil & WaterUniversity of Adelaide, PMB1Glen OsmondAustralia
  3. 3.Australian Wine Research InstituteGlen OsmondAustralia

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