Journal of comparative physiology. A, Neuroethology, sensory, neural, and behavioral physiology

Responses of round goby (Neogobius melanostomus) olfactory epithelium to steroids released by reproductive males.

PMID 21735225


The wild perciform teleost Neogobius melanostomus (the round goby) originated from the Ponto-Caspian region and is now a highly successful invasive species in the Laurentian Great Lakes. Males may attract females into their nests for spawning by releasing reproductive pheromones, and it has been previously shown that reproductive males synthesize and release the 5β-reduced and 3α-hydroxyl steroids 3α-hydroxy-5β-androstane-11,17-dione (11-oxo-etiocholanolone; 11-O-ETIO) and 3α-hydroxy-5β-androstane-11,17-dione 3-sulfate (11-oxo-etiocholanolone-3-sulfate; 11-O-ETIO-3-s) and 3α,17β-dihydroxy-5β-androstan-11-one 17-sulfate. In this study, we investigated properties of these released steroids by recording field potential responses from the olfactory epithelium (electro-olfactogram, EOG). The steroid 3α,17β-dihydroxy-5β-androstan-11-one 17-sulfate did not elicit olfactory responses while both 11-O-ETIO and 11-O-ETIO-3-s stimulated olfactory field potentials in the round goby, but not in the goldfish. Cross-adaptation analysis demonstrated that round gobies discriminated between11-O-ETIO and 11-O-ETIO-3-s (as well as etiocholanolone, ETIO) at the sensory level. Second messenger cascades depending on both cAMP and IP(3) were inferred for steroids from pharmacological inhibition studies, while the canonical teleost odors taurocholic acid (a bile acid) and L: -alanine (an amino acid) used only cAMP and IP(3), respectively. The round goby presents itself as an excellent species for the study of olfactory function of fish in the wild, given its possible use of these released steroids as pheromones.