Letter | Published:

Spawning pheromone in crown-of-thorns starfish

Naturevolume 254pages135136 (1975) | Download Citation



LARGE aggregations of the crown-of-thorns starfish Acanthaster planci L have destroyed a high proportion of the coral on certain Indo-Pacific reefs. We report that gamete release by one A. planci induces other ripe starfish to spawn; similar behaviour has been observed in certain other echinoderms1,2. During natural spawning a pheromone is released from the gonad, which synchronises spawning in neighbouring animals and also induces starfish movement towards the spawning individual. Using a Y maze to study chemoattraction in spawning starfish, we have attempted to isolate and characterise the active gonad component.

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Author notes

    • D. H. BEACH

    Present address: Peterhouse, Cambridge

    • N. J. HANSCOMB

    Present address: MRC Mammalian Genome Unit, West Mains Road, Edinburgh, EH9 3JN

    • R. F. G. ORMOND

    Present address: Department of Biology, University of York, Heslington, York, YO1 5DD, UK


  1. Cambridge Coral Starfish Research Group, PO Box 99, Port Sudan, Democratic Republic of the Sudan

    • D. H. BEACH
    • , N. J. HANSCOMB
    •  & R. F. G. ORMOND


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