MSU researchers use sex pheromones to control sea lamprey in Great Lakes

Feb 16, 2016

Scientists at Michigan State University are hoping to use the mating pheromone of the sea lamprey to help eradicate the species from the region. We learn more from Michael Wagner from the MSU Department of Fisheries and Wildlife.


Sea lampreys are pretty creepy looking. Their blood-sucking mouths filled with razor sharp teeth seem right out of a horror movie. And in fact, the Great Lakes invader actually has its own B horror movie called “Blood Lake.”

While the real life sea lamprey don’t pose a risk to humans, they’re a major threat to Great Lakes fish populations. Now, researchers at Michigan State University are looking into a unique new way to help control their population.

Sea lampreys are pretty tough creatures. They’ve been around for around 340 million years and managed to survive several mass extinctions. But, like many of us, they have a soft spot for love, or at least for sex pheromones, and that’s a weakness scientists at MSU are trying to exploit.

Current State’s April Van Buren talks to Michael Wagner, an associate professor in the Department of Fisheries and Wildlife at MSU.

This segment is supported by Michigan State University's Knight Center for Environmental Journalism. More news about the Great Lakes environment can be found at GreatLakesEcho.org and on Current State every Tuesday as part of our partnership.