3-Decanol in the haemolymph of the hermit crab Clibanarius vittatus signals shell availability to conspecifics
Hermit crabs with poor fitting shells are chemically attracted to dying gastropods and conspecifics where a shell may become available. For land hermit crabs, the shell cue is a volatile compound found in the haemolymph. Based on this knowledge, we tested the hypothesis that shell investigation behavior in aquatic hermit crabs, the ancestral predecessors of terrestrial hermit crabs, is also triggered by volatile cues. Volatile compounds from haemolymph of Clibanarius vittatus and Pagurus pollicaris and brachyuran decapod crustaceans were purged from a water-haemolymph solution, trapped in seawater and tested for induction of shell investigation behavior with juvenile C. vittatus. Only volatiles from C. vittatus haemolymph stimulated shell investigation. Volatile compounds were isolated from haemolymph by headspace solid-phase microextraction (SPME) and analyzed by coupled gas chromatography-mass spectrometry (GC-MS). Two prominent compounds were identified, 3-decanol, which was unique to C. vittatus haemolymph, and 2-ethyl-1-hexanol, which was present in the haemolymph of all 4 crustacean species. In shell investigation bioassays, 3-decanol from C. vittatus haemolymph stimulated shell investigation behavior, while 2-ethyl-1-hexanol did not. In bioassays with synthetic 1-, 2-, 4-, and 5-decanol, shell investigation behavior was evoked by 1-decanol, 5-decanol and 3-undecanol. There was no response to 2- and 4-decanol. The response of C. vittatus to volatile shell cues supports the hypothesis that volatile cue detection evolved prior to the occupation of terrestrial niches by crustaceans. © 2009 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.
Schmidt, G; Rittschof, D; Lutostanski, K; Batchelder, A; Harder, T
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