Pheromone

A fanning honeybee exposes Nasonov's gland (white – at tip of abdomen) releasing pheromone to entice swarm into an empty hive

A pheromone (from Ancient Greek φέρω phero "to bear" and hormone, from Ancient Greek ὁρμή "impetus") is a secreted or excreted chemical factor that triggers a social response in members of the same species. Pheromones are chemicals capable of acting like hormones outside the body of the secreting individual, to impact the behavior of the receiving individuals.[1] There are alarm pheromones, food trail pheromones, sex pheromones, and many others that affect behavior or physiology. Pheromones are used from basic unicellular prokaryotes to complex multicellular eukaryotes.[2] Their use among insects has been particularly well documented. In addition, some vertebrates, plants and ciliates[3] communicate by using pheromones.

Background

The portmanteau word "pheromone" was coined by Peter Karlson and Martin Lüscher in 1959, based on the Greek φερω pheroo ('I carry') and ὁρμων hormon ('stimulating').[4] Pheromones are also sometimes classified as ecto-hormones. They were researched earlier by various scientists, including Jean-Henri Fabre, Joseph A. Lintner, Adolf Butenandt, and ethologist Karl von Frisch who called them various names, like for instance "alarm substances". These chemical messengers are transported outside of the body and affect neurocircuits, including the autonomous nervous system with hormone or cytokine mediated physiological changes, inflammatory signaling, immune system changes and/or behavioral change in the recipient.[5] They proposed the term to describe chemical signals from conspecifics that elicit innate behaviors soon after the German biochemist Adolf Butenandt had characterized the first such chemical, bombykol, a chemically well-characterized pheromone released by the female silkworm to attract mates.[6]

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