Meeting Abstract

P1.132A  Wednesday, Jan. 4  Molecular modules of maternal aggression in the African cichlid Astatotilapia burtoni RENN, Suzy CP*; CARLETON, Julia; CROTTEAU, Emily; Reed College; Reed College; Reed College

Thirty years of research have contributed to our understanding of the molecular, hormonal, and physiological mechanisms of the socially regulated switch between dominant and subordinate phenotypes among males of the African cichlid species Astatotilapia burtoni. Meanwhile, the female phenotypes have been largely ignored by all but a few studies regarding the reproductive cycle and affiliative behavior. Females of a recently collected A. burtoni wild stock from Zambia display a "good mother" phenotype that includes defensive aggression to protect free-swimming fry for up to 15 days post-release, whereas labstock females show similar aggression but eat their fry within 2-3 days post-release. The behavioral difference is likely due to inadvertent artificial selection in the lab, as suggested by good-mother phenotype observed in F1 wildstock that have been reared under standard lab conditions. Our current research employs a systems biology approach to investigate the neuroendocrine and genomic contribution to the novel phenotype of maternal aggression in A. burtoni. We describe the behavior in detail through repeated, ten-minute focal observations. We use cross-fostering experiments to demonstrate that the differing level of maternal care is possibly induced in part by differences in the behavior of the fry. We use a cDNA microarray to identify differences in gene expression between stocks and between timepoints along the reproductive cycle. A module of gene expression, specific to the wild stock in the post-release, maternal stage contains some genes previously identified as important in male territorial behavior and also a novel set of genes potentially related to maternal aggression.