Tuesday, 7 August 2018

Smell at a distance

The female silk worm moth (Bombyx mori) makes the pheromone bombykol in a special organ in her abdomen. When she is prepared to mate she releases this to attract males. A male silk worm moth has two long antennas that are very sensitive to the odor of the female. One single molecule is enough to cause a reaction in the sensory cells on the male's antenna. In this way he can locate the female. Even at a distance of 10 kilometers, he can still smell her!

Bombykol was discovered in 1959 by Adolf Butenandt (1903–1995), who was awarded the 1939 Nobel Prize in chemistry for his work on pheromones, and it was the first pheromone to be characterized chemically.

Prepared slide by Lieder www.lieder.com

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