Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

When She's Turned On, Some Of Her Genes Turn Off, Fish Study Shows

Date:
December 12, 2007
Source:
University of Texas at Austin
Summary:
When a female is attracted to a male, entire suites of genes in her brain turn on and off, show biologists from the University of Texas at Austin studying swordtail fish.

When a female is attracted to a male, entire suites of genes in her brain turn on and off, show biologists from The University of Texas at Austin studying swordtail fish.

Molly Cummings and Hans Hofmann found that some genes were turned on when females found a male attractive, but a larger number of genes were turned off.

"When females were most excited--when attractive males were around--we observed the greatest down regulation [turning off] of genes," said Cummings, assistant professor of integrative biology. "It's possible that this could lead to a release of inhibition, a transition to being receptive to mating."

The same genes that turned on when the females were with attractive males turned off when they were with other females and vice versa.

This is one of few studies to link changes in the expression of genes with changes in an individual's behavior in different social situations.

Cummings and Hofmann suggest that the gene sets they studied could be involved in orchestrating mating responses in all vertebrates.

Their research appeared online December 4 in Proceedings of the Royal Society of London B.

Female swordtails are attracted to males that are large and have ornaments on their bodies, such as long tails and striking coloration.

In experiments, females were placed in the center of a tank separated into three zones for 30 minutes. When an attractive male was in one of the adjacent zones, females showed typical behaviors indicating that they had chosen the male for mating. The females were also tested with other females, with unattractive smaller males, and in empty tanks.

The researchers immediately extracted RNA from the females and used gene array technology to identify genes that were being up regulated (turned on) and down regulated (turned off) in the females' brains.

The researchers looked at more than 3,000 genes and found that 77 were involved in the females' mate choice behavior.

"We've found a number of new genes that haven't been implicated in mating behavior before," said Hofmann, assistant professor of integrative biology.

The genes turned on or off very quickly during the 30-minute testing period.

"What we have not appreciated until now is how dynamic the genome is," said Hofmann. "It is constantly changing and even in a very short period of time, 10 percent of the protein-coding genome can change its activity. We now have a genomic view of these dynamic processes within a social context."

The biologists next seek to identify specific regions in the brain where the genes are expressed. They also aim to enhance or inhibit specific genes and observe the resulting behavioral change.

"We'd like to take a female who is a 'high preference gal' and make her a 'low preference gal' and vice versa," said Cummings.

She said that gaining a better understanding of individual expression of behavior and its underlying genetic causes can shed light on how behavior drives and maintains the evolution and diversification of species.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of Texas at Austin. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

University of Texas at Austin. "When She's Turned On, Some Of Her Genes Turn Off, Fish Study Shows." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 12 December 2007. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/12/071210162931.htm>.
University of Texas at Austin. (2007, December 12). When She's Turned On, Some Of Her Genes Turn Off, Fish Study Shows. ScienceDaily. Retrieved October 2, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/12/071210162931.htm
University of Texas at Austin. "When She's Turned On, Some Of Her Genes Turn Off, Fish Study Shows." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/12/071210162931.htm (accessed October 2, 2014).

Share This



More Plants & Animals News

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Study Says Losing Sense Of Smell Can Indicate Death

Study Says Losing Sense Of Smell Can Indicate Death

Newsy (Oct. 2, 2014) Researchers found elderly adults with a poor sense of smell are more likely to die within five years. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Dolphins and Turtles Under Threat in Pakistan

Dolphins and Turtles Under Threat in Pakistan

AFP (Oct. 2, 2014) The turtles and Dolphins of Pakistan's Indus river - both protected by law - are in a fight for their survival as man's activities threatens their futures. Duration: 02:29 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
'Harvest Break' Endures in Maine Potato Fields

'Harvest Break' Endures in Maine Potato Fields

AP (Oct. 2, 2014) Educators and farmers are clinging to a tradition aimed at giving farmers much-needed help in getting potatoes out of the fields and into storage before the ground freezes in the nation's northeast corner. (Oct. 2) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Attacking Superbugs

Attacking Superbugs

Ivanhoe (Oct. 1, 2014) Two weapons hospitals can use to attack superbugs. Scientists in Ireland created a new gel resistant to superbugs, and a robot that can disinfect a room in minutes. Video provided by Ivanhoe
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Plants & Animals

Earth & Climate

Fossils & Ruins

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins