Pinpointing a molecule for sea lamprey control

A team of scientists has identified a single molecule that could be a key in controlling invasive sea lampreys.

Weiming Li, MSU Fisheries and Wildlife professor, has proven that sea lampreys use bile salts as pheromones. Courtesy of MSU.

Researchers from Michigan State University, the University of Minnesota and Western Michigan University have homed in on a fatty molecule that directs the destructive eels’ migration. The results, published in the current issue of PNAS, could lead to better ways to control sea lampreys.

“We’ve found a pheromone, a fatty acid derivative, that’s released by larval sea lamprey and guides migratory adults to spawning grounds,” said Weiming Li, MSU professor of fisheries and wildlife and co-lead author of the study. “Because the pheromone bridges two distinct life stages and transmits through two different habitats, it holds a potential to disrupt adult sea lamprey as they try to reproduce.”

Scientists have suspected that such an odorant existed for decades, but the identity of such odorants have remained elusive.

Read the full story at MSU Today.

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