Plectrohyla hartwegi Duellman, 1968
Hartweg's Spikethumb Frog
© 2011 Sean Michael Rovito (1 of 15)
Distribution and Habitat
Country distribution from AmphibiaWeb's database: Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico
Plethodontid salamanders have long been known to use "vaccination" as part of their mating behavior. Unlike the familiar form of vaccination in which antigens are introduced into the circulatory system to induce an immune response, the term vaccination in plethodontid salamanders refers to the male using his teeth to scratch the back of a female during courtship, thereby introducing pheromones from his mental gland directly into her blood stream. These pheromones are known to enhance female receptivity. Such mechanisms of so-called "traumatic mating" are common among arthropods, but rare in vertebrates. Now, Schulte et al. (2021) suggest that a similar mechanism may be at play in several species of frogs in the genus Plectrohyla (Hylidae). Intrigued by the elongated teeth and swollen lips of reproductively active males – males which are known to scratch the female’s back with those teeth during amplexus – they showed via microscopy that the swollen lips house specialized breeding glands. Using transcriptome sequencing, Schulte et al. discovered the glands produce sodefrin precursor-like factors, which are known to have pheromone function in other amphibian species. Although additional research will be required to confirm the role of vaccination in Plectrohyla, this study showcases the myriad (and sometime bizarre) lengths that males will go in their effort to enhance mating success. (Written by Jim McGuire)
Edited by: Michelle S. Koo (2022-03-06)
Species Account Citation: AmphibiaWeb 2022 Plectrohyla hartwegi: Hartweg's Spikethumb Frog <https://amphibiaweb.org/species/1041> University of California, Berkeley, CA, USA. Accessed Mar 22, 2023.
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Citation: AmphibiaWeb. 2023. <https://amphibiaweb.org> University of California, Berkeley, CA, USA. Accessed 22 Mar 2023.
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