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Rates of attraction of cane toad tadpoles to chemicals

Cite this dataset

Shine, Richard (2021). Rates of attraction of cane toad tadpoles to chemicals [Dataset]. Dryad.


Chemical cues produced by late-stage embryos of the cane toad (Rhinella marina) attract older conspecific larvae, which are highly cannibalistic and can consume an entire clutch. To clarify the molecular basis of this attraction response, we presented captive tadpoles with components present in toad eggs. As previously reported, attractivity arises from the distinctive toxins (bufadienolides) produced by cane toads, with some toxins (e.g., bufagenins) much stronger attractants than others (e.g., bufotoxins). Extracts of frozen toad parotoid glands (rich in bufagenins) were more attractive than were fresh MeOH extracts of the parotoid secretion (rich in bufotoxins), and purified marinobufagin was more effective than marinobufotoxin. Cardenolide aglycones (e.g., digitoxigenin) were active attractors, whereas C-3 glycosides (e.g., digoxin, oubain) were far less effective. A structure-activity relationship study revealed that tadpole attractant potency strongly correlated with Na+/K+ ATPase inhibitory activity, suggesting that tadpoles monitor and rapidly react to perturbations to Na+/K+ ATPase activity.


Australian Research Council, Award: FL120100074

University of Queensland