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  • Female reproductive state is associated with changes in distinct arginine vasotocin cell types in the preoptic area ofAstatotilapia burtoni JOURNAL OF COMPARATIVE NEUROLOGY Butler, J. M., Anselmo, C. M., Maruska, K. P. 2020


    Nonapeptides play a crucial role in mediating reproduction, aggression, and parental care across taxa. In fishes, arginine vasotocin (AVT) expression is related to social and/or reproductive status in most male fishes studied to date, and is linked to territorial defense, paternal care, and courtship. Despite a plethora of studies examining AVT in male fishes, relatively little is known about how AVT expression varies with female reproductive state or its role in female social behaviors. We used multiple methods for examining the AVT system in female African cichlid fish Astatotilapia burtoni, including immunohistochemistry for AVT, in situ hybridization for avt-mRNA, and quantitative PCR. Ovulated and mouthbrooding females had similar numbers of parvocellular, magnocellular, and gigantocellular AVT cells in the preoptic area. However, ovulated females had larger magnocellular and gigantocellular cells compared to mouthbrooding females, and gigantocellular AVT cell size correlated with the number of days brooding, such that late-stage brooding females had larger AVT cells than mid-stage brooding females. In addition, we found that ventral hypothalamic cells were more prominent in females compared to males, and were larger in mouthbrooding compared to ovulated females, suggesting a role in maternal care. Together, these data indicate that AVT neurons change across the reproductive cycle in female fishes, similar to that seen in males. These data on females complement studies in male A. burtoni, providing a comprehensive picture of the regulation and potential function of different AVT cell types in reproduction and social behaviors in both sexes.

    View details for DOI 10.1002/cne.24995

    View details for Web of Science ID 000563985600001

    View details for PubMedID 32706120

  • Noise during mouthbrooding impairs maternal care behaviors and juvenile development and alters brain transcriptomes in the African cichlid fish Astatotilapia burtoni. Genes, brain, and behavior Butler, J. M., Maruska, K. P. 2020


    Anthropogenic noise has increased underwater ambient sound levels in the range in which most fishes detect and produce acoustic signals. Although the impacts of increased background noise on fish development have been studied in a variety of species, there is a paucity of information on how noise affects parental care. Mouthbrooding is an energetically costly form of parental care in which the brooding fish carries developing larvae in the buccal cavity for the duration of development. In the African cichlid Astatotilapia burtoni, females carry their brood for ~2weeks during which time they do not eat. To test the hypothesis that increased background noise impacts maternal care behaviors and brood development, we exposed brooding females to a 3-hr period of excess noise (~140dB) played through an underwater speaker. Over half of noise-exposed brooding females cannibalized or pre-maturely released their brood, but 90% of control females exhibited normal brooding behaviors. RNA-seq analysis revealed that transcripts related to feeding and parental care were differentially expressed in the brains of noise-exposed females. Juveniles that were exposed to noise during their brood period within the mother's mouth had lower body condition factors, higher mortality, and altered head transcriptomes compared to control broods. Further, onset of adult-typical coloration and behaviors was delayed compared to control fish. Together, these data indicate that noise has severe impacts on reproductive fitness in mouthbrooding females. Our results, combined with past studies, indicate that parental care stages are extremely susceptible to noise-induced perturbations with detrimental effects on species persistence.

    View details for DOI 10.1111/gbb.12692

    View details for PubMedID 32779314

  • Neural activation patterns associated with maternal mouthbrooding and energetic state in an African cichlid fish. Neuroscience Maruska, K. P., Butler, J. M., Field, K. E., Forester, C., Augustus, A. 2020


    Parental care is widespread in the animal kingdom, but for many species, provisioning energetic resources must be balanced with trade-offs between self-promoting and offspring-promoting behaviors. However, little is known about the neural mechanisms underlying these motivational decisions. Mouthbrooding is an extreme form of parental care most common in fishes that provides an ideal opportunity to examine which brain regions are involved in parenting and energetics. The African cichlid fish Astatotilapia burtoni is a maternal mouthbrooder in which females hold developing young inside their mouths for 2 weeks. This brood care makes feeding impossible, so females undergo obligatory starvation. We used immunohistochemistry for the neural activation marker pS6 to examine which brain regions were involved in processing salient information in mouthbrooding, starved, and fed females. We identified brain regions more associated with maternal brood care (TPp, Dc-4/-5), and others reflective of energetic state (Dl-v, NLTi). Most nuclei examined, however, were involved in both maternal care and energetic status. Placement of each of the 16 examined nuclei into these functional categories was supported by node by node comparisons, co-activity networks, hierarchical clustering, and discriminant function analysis. These results reveal which brain regions are involved in parental care and food intake in a species where provisioning is skewed towards the offspring when parental feeding is not possible. This study provides support for both distinct and shared circuitry involved in regulation of maternal care, food intake, and energy balance, and helps put the extreme parental case of mouthbrooding into a comparative and evolutionary context.

    View details for DOI 10.1016/j.neuroscience.2020.07.025

    View details for PubMedID 32707292

  • Underwater noise impairs social communication during aggressive and reproductive encounters ANIMAL BEHAVIOUR Butler, J. M., Maruska, K. P. 2020; 164: 9–23