Behavioural tactic predicts preoptic-hypothalamic gene expression more strongly than developmental morph in fish with alternative reproductive tactics

Proceedings. Biological Sciences
Joel A TrippAndrew H Bass


Reproductive success relies on the coordination of social behaviours, such as territory defence, courtship and mating. Species with extreme variation in reproductive tactics are useful models for identifying the neural mechanisms underlying social behaviour plasticity. The plainfin midshipman (Porichthys notatus) is a teleost fish with two male reproductive morphs that follow widely divergent developmental trajectories and display alternative reproductive tactics (ARTs). Type I males defend territories, court females and provide paternal care, but will resort to cuckoldry if they cannot maintain a territory. Type II males reproduce only through cuckoldry. We sought to disentangle gene expression patterns underlying behavioural tactic, in this case ARTs, from those solely reflective of developmental morph. Using RNA-sequencing, we investigated differential transcript expression in the preoptic area-anterior hypothalamus (POA-AH) of courting type I males, cuckolding type I males and cuckolding type II males. Unexpectedly, POA-AH differential expression was more strongly coupled to behavioural tactic than morph. This included a suite of transcripts implicated in hormonal regulation of vertebrate social behaviour. Our results revea...Continue Reading


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