Social Odors Conveying Dominance and Reproductive Information Induce Rapid Physiological and Neuromolecular Changes in a Cichlid Fish
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Social plasticity is a pervasive feature of animal behavior. Animals adjust the expression of their social behavior to the daily changes in social life and to transitions between life-history stages, and this ability has an impact in their Darwinian fitness. This behavioral plasticity may be achieved either by rewiring or by biochemically switching nodes of the neural network underlying social behavior in response to perceived social information. Independent of the proximate mechanisms, at the neuromolecular level social plasticity relies on the regulation of gene expression, such that different neurogenomic states emerge in response to different social stimuli and the switches between states are orchestrated by signaling pathways that interface the social environment and the genotype. Here, we test this hypothesis by characterizing the changes in the brain profile of gene expression in response to social odors in the Mozambique Tilapia, Oreochromis mossambicus. This species has a rich repertoire of social behaviors during which both visual and chemical information are conveyed to conspecifics. Specifically, dominant males increase their urination frequency during agonist encounters and during courtship to convey chemical information reflecting their dominance status.
1 Unidade de Investigação em Eco-Etologia, ISPA - Instituto Universitário, Rua Jardim do Tabaco 34, 1149-041 Lisbon, Portugal. 2 Integrative Behavioural Biology Lab, Instituto Gulbenkian de Ciência, Oeiras, Portugal. 3 Champalimaud Neuroscience Programme, Champalimaud Foundation, Lisbon, Portugal. 4 CCMAR-CIMAR Laboratório Associado, Universidade do Algarve, Campus de Gambelas, 8005-139 Faro, Portugal. 5 Departamento de Biologia, Universidade de Évora, Apartado 94, 7002-554 Évora, Portugal. 6 Institute for Cellular and Molecular Biology, University of Texas at Austin, Austin, TX, USA. 7 Department of Integrative Biology, University of Texas at Austin, Austin, TX, USA. 8Institute for Neuroscience, University of Texas at Austin, Austin, TX, USA. 9Current address: FAS