Microbes give meerkat gangs their signature scents

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06/15/2017 02:30 PM EDT

a meerkat wipes his scent on a shrub

Body odor. To some it’s an embarrassing nuisance. But to meerkats, it’s a calling card. Meerkats produce a pungent “paste” that they use to mark their turf. With one whiff they can tell if a scent belongs to a relative, a rival or a potential mate. But the chemical signals in this stinky graffiti don’t come from the meerkats themselves; they’re made by odor-producing bacteria that thrive in the meerkats’ gooey secretions, researchers find.

Full story at https://today.duke.edu/2017/06/microbes-give-meerkat-gangs-their-signature-scents

Source
Duke University

This is an NSF News From the Field item.