New paper in Molecules


Analyses of Skin Secretions of Vipera ammodytes (Linnaeus, 1758) (Reptilia: Serpentes), with Focus on the Complex Compounds and Their Possible Role in the Chemical Communication

Andonov K, Dyugmedzhiev A, Lukanov S, Slavchev M, Vacheva E, Stanchev N,  Popgeorgiev G, Duhalov D, Kornilev YV, Nedeltcheva-Antonova D & Naumov B.
Molecules 25 (16): 3622. Published online 9 August 2020.


Snakes rely heavily on chemical cues when foraging, searching for mates, etc. Snakes’ sex attractiveness pheromones comprise mainly heavy, semi-volatile compounds such as ketones. Here we investigated the composition of skin secretions of adult Vipera ammodytes (Linnaeus, 1758) individuals. The samples were analyzed by gas chromatography/mass spectrometry and the identification of the compounds was performed using commercial mass spectral libraries and retention times. The relative concentrations of all detected compounds were tested for significant differences between (1) male vs. female live individuals, (2) shed skin vs. live individuals, and (3) pre-reproductive vs. reproductive live individuals. We detected fifty-nine compounds of which six were ketones. Two ketones (2-pentacosanone and 2-heptacosanone) were present in many of the samples and thus may have an important role in the V. ammodytes chemical communication. We did not find significant differences between the relative concentrations of the compounds between male and female individuals (only three compounds are exceptions). Significant differences were found between extracts from shed skins and live individuals and between live pre-reproductive individuals and live reproductive individuals. The results of the study suggest that chemical communication in V. ammodytes involves less compounds in comparison to the known literature data for other species.