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Mating suppresses alarm response in zebrafish

Diaz Verdugo, Carmen, Sun, Gerald, Fawcett, Caroline, Zhu, Peixin and Fishman, Mark (2019) Mating suppresses alarm response in zebrafish. Current biology. ISSN 1879-0445


Mating and flight from threats are innate behaviors which enhance species survival. Stimuli to these behaviors often are contemporaneous and conflicting. How such conflicts are resolved, and where in the brain such decisions are made, are both poorly understood. For teleosts, olfactory stimuli are key elements of mating and threat responses. For example, zebrafish manifest a stereotypical escape response when exposed to alarm substance released from injured conspecific skin (“skin extract”). We find that when mating, fish ignore this threatening stimulus. Water conditioned by the mating fish (“mating water”) suffices to suppress much of the alarm response behavior. By 2-photon imaging of calcium transients, we mapped the regions of the brain responding to skin extract and to mating water. In the telencephalon, we found regions where the responses overlap, and also one region (medial Dp), to be predominantly activated by skin extract, and another, Vs, to be predominantly activated by mating water. When mating water and skin extract were applied simultaneously, the alarm-specific response was suppressed, while the mating water-specific response was retained, corresponding to the dominance of mating over flight behavior. The choice made, for reproduction over escape, is opposite to that of mammals, presumably reflecting how the balance affects species survival.

Item Type: Article
Keywords: Mating behavior, olfactory conditioning, alarm pheromone, sex pheromone, higher olfactory centers, zebrafish, neuron, calcium imaging
Date Deposited: 13 Aug 2019 00:45
Last Modified: 13 Aug 2019 00:45


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