Pheromone: Definition, Types, & Examples

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Pheromones Definition

A pheromone is a substance produced by an organism that acts as a behaviour modifier. It implies that when it identifies individuals of the same species, it can modify their behaviour.

What are Pheromones?

The name pheromone comes from the Ancient Greek φέρω (phero), which means “to carry,” and ὁρμωv (hormon), which means “stimulating.” Bombykol, a molecule secreted by female silkworms to attract males of the same species, was the first pheromone to be discovered in 1959.

A hormone is a regulatory chemical in the broadest sense. It elicits a response or action from its intended recipient. Hormones are generated and released by the endocrine glands in humans and other animals. They are produced in plants to control a variety of plant functions, such as growth and senescence.

According to some sources, pheromones are a hormone, specifically an ectohormone, because they are ejected and operate outside of the organism’s body. Pheromones are sensed via the vomeronasal organ (Jacobson’s organ) in animals. This organ is found in the nose and is linked to the brain’s hypothalamus.

Vomeronasal organs exist in humans as well, although only during the foetal period. Prior to delivery, they sag. Human pheromones are still a work in progress. If they do exist, people may sense them through their regular olfactory system rather than their vomeronasal organs.

Biological Importance of Pheromones

Some creatures’ pheromones produced or expelled can affect the physiology or behaviour of their conspecifics (members of the same species). Many of them are used to entice male and female partners. Sex pheromones are what they’re called. Other pheromones are employed to signal a food trail or to raise an alarm.

Pheromones are also employed to mark the boundaries of territory. The pheromones in dog urine, for example, will identify the dog’s area. Pheromones are thus a way through which organisms communicate. Pheromones are used by most insects to communicate with one another.

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