A fragrance is a chemical substance that stimulates the sense of smell and is used for communication in animals , for example as a pheromone . In plants, perfumes both the attraction of serving insects to spread of pollen , seeds or spores as well as a deterrent.
The animals use their scent, for example, to mark their territory ( scent marks ) or to convey messages to fellow species ( communication of fellow species ). This is how ants mark their streets with formic acid .
To attract sexual partners, for example, female animals ready to conceive squirt urine to signal to male conspecifics that they can be mated. Some species of butterflies also lure their partners with fragrances over many kilometers.
Fragrances can also serve to arouse the sexual partner. Scent glands are strongly developed in mammals, especially during the rut (foreskin glands of the beaver or the musk sac of the musk deer). The beaver sprays so-called " beaver horny " to attract conspecifics. This scent is / was often used by hunters when hunting beavers, as it guaranteed very high catch rates.
Plants have scents to attract insects or scare away predators. Sweet scents are mostly used as attractants, foul smelling ones as defense.
Various herbal fragrances are obtained in considerable quantities from the respective plants and used in perfume production or for flavoring foods or in medicines. The following plants may be mentioned as examples: lavender , roses , caraway , eucalyptus , vanilla , citrus plants .
Are often used in perfumes , scented candles , room fragrances or sprays, etc. In these products, in addition to natural fragrances ( fragrances ), e.g. B. cinnamaldehyde or coumarin , used because the need exceeds the supply from natural sources. Furthermore, fragrances are also used that do not occur in nature, e.g. B. 2-benzylidene heptanal (amylcinnamaldehyde) or ethyl 2-naphthyl ether .
Fragrances can cause allergies in sensitive people ; Contrary to popular belief, this does not depend on the origin (natural or synthetic), but on the chemical structure.
Fragrances in humans
Humans also have their own scents ( pheromones ) for sexual attraction and advertising.
The apocrine glands of the skin, which, as scent glands, secrete scents and their precursors in addition to the eccrine sweat glands, are of crucial importance . B. smelling steroids , carboxylic acid derivatives such as 3-hydroxy-3-methylhexanoic acid, and sulfanylalkanols ( thiols ). Bacterial enzymes , which belong to the group of lyases and convert the actual fragrances from the fragrance precursor molecules, play an important role in the development of scents .
Different types and means of personal hygiene , however serve an effort to odor as unpleasant perceived body odors , such as in bad breath or sweat odor to stop ( deodorization ). In addition, humans use non-endogenous fragrances, e.g. B. in perfumes and perfumed cosmetic products to get a different smell. Living rooms and clothing are also replaced by fragrances that, for. B. are contained in detergents and detergents, perfumed in different scents.
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- WDR: Quarks The world of fragrances (pdf) (1.04 MB)
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- www.wissenschaft.de: The scent of happiness - researchers discover universally effective scents with a relaxing effect ( New Scientist , October 21, 2006, p. 14)
- Fragrances - chemical companions in everyday life (brochure of the German Federal Environment Agency), September 2016
- www.haut.de - Clarity for unadulterated fragrance pleasure (PDF; 409 kB)