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  • The physiological mechanisms underlying variation in aggression in fish remain poorly understood. One possibly confounding variable is the lack of standardization in the type of stimuli used to elicit aggression. The presentation of controlled stimuli in videos, a.k.a. video playback, can provide better control of the fight components. However, this technique has produced conflicting results in animal behaviour studies and needs to be carefully validated. For this, a similar response to the video and an equivalent live stimulus needs to be demonstrated. Further, different physiological responses may be triggered by live and video stimuli and it is important to demonstrate that video images elicit appropriate physiological reactions. Here, the behavioural and endocrine response of male Siamese fighting fish Betta splendens to a matched for size conspecific fighting behind a one-way mirror, presented live or through video playback, was compared. The video playback and live stimulus elicited a strong and similar aggressive response by the focal fish, with a fight structure that started with stereotypical threat displays and progressed to overt attacks. Post-fight plasma levels of the androgen 11-ketotestosterone were elevated as compared to controls, regardless of the type of stimuli. Cortisol also increased in response to the video images, as previously described for live fights in this species. These results show that the interactive component of a fight, and its resolution, are not needed to trigger an endocrine response to aggression in this species. The study also demonstrates for the first time in a fish a robust endocrine response to video stimuli and supports the use of this technique for researching aggressive behaviour in B. splendens.

  • Skip to Next Section Acoustic communication is an important part of social behaviour of fish species that live or breed in shallow noisy waters. Previous studies have shown that some fish species exploit a quiet window in the background noise for communication. However, it remains to be examined whether hearing abilities and sound production of fish are adapted to marine habitats presenting high hydrodynamism. Here, we investigated whether the communication system of the painted (Pomatoschistus pictus) and the marbled (Pomatoschistus marmoratus) gobies is adapted to enhance sound transmission and reception in Atlantic shallow water environments. We recorded and measured the sound pressure levels of social vocalisations of both species, as well as snapshots of ambient noise of habitats characterised by different hydrodynamics. Hearing thresholds (in terms of both sound pressure and particle acceleration) and responses to conspecific signals were determined using the auditory evoked potential recording technique. We found that the peak frequency range (100–300 Hz) of acoustic signals matched the best hearing sensitivity in both species and appeared well adapted for short-range communication in Atlantic habitats. Sandy/rocky exposed beaches presented a quiet window, observable even during the breaking of moderate waves, coincident with the main sound frequencies and best hearing sensitivities of both species. Our data demonstrate that the hearing abilities of these gobies are well suited to detect conspecific sounds within typical interacting distances (a few body lengths) in Atlantic shallow waters. These findings lend support to the acoustic adaptive hypothesis, under the sensory drive framework, proposing that signals and perception systems coevolve to be effective within local environment constraints.

  • Exposure to continuous moderate noise levels is known to impair the auditory system leading to Noise-Induced Hearing Loss (NIHL) in animals including humans. The mechanism underlying noise-dependent auditory Temporary Threshold Shifts (TTS) is not fully understood. In fact, only limited information is available on vertebrates such as fishes, which share homologous inner ear structures to mammals and have the ability to regenerate hair cells. The zebrafish Danio rerio is a well-established model in hearing research providing an unmatched opportunity to investigate the molecular and physiological mechanisms of NIHL at the sensory receptor level. Here we investigated for the first time the effects of noise exposure on TTS and functional recovery in zebrafish, as well as the associated morphological damage and regeneration of the inner ear saccular hair cells. Adult specimens were exposed for 24h to white noise at various amplitudes (130, 140 and 150 dB re. 1 μPa) and their auditory sensitivity was subsequently measured with the Auditory Evoked Potential (AEP) recording technique. Sensory recovery was tested at different times post-treatment (after 3, 7 and 14 days) and compared to individuals kept under quiet lab conditions. Results revealed noise level-dependent TTS up to 33 dB and increase in response latency. Recovery of hearing function occurred within 7 days for fish exposed to 130 and 140 dB noise levels, while fish subject to 150 dB only returned to baseline thresholds after 14 days. Hearing impairment was accompanied by significant loss of hair cells only at the highest noise treatment. Full regeneration of the sensory tissue (number of hair cell receptors) occurred within 7 days, which was prior to functional recovery. We provide first baseline data of NIHL in zebrafish and validate this species as an effective vertebrate model to investigate the impact of noise exposure on the structure and function of the adult inner ear and its recovery process.

  • Alternative reproductive tactics (ARTs) evolve when there is strong intra-sexual competition between conspecifics for access to mates. Typically, larger “bourgeois” males reproduce by securing the access to reproductive resources while smaller “parasitic” males reproduce by stealing fertilizations from larger males. A number of factors can influence the reproductive success of each tactic, including intrinsic (e.g. size) and extrinsic (e.g. tactic relative frequency) variables. An example where plastic ARTs occur is the peacock blenny Salaria pavo, with large males reproducing by defending nests and attracting females (bourgeois tactic) and small males reproducing by achieving sneaked fertilizations (parasitic tactic). In this study, we conducted field observations on individually tagged animals to determine their social network and collected eggs from 11 nests to determine the fertilization success of each male tactic. Paternity estimates for 550 offspring indicated an average fertilization success for nest-holder males of 95%. Nest-holder male morphological traits and social network parameters were tested as predictors of fertilization success, but only the number of sneakers present in the nest-holder’s social networks was found to be a predictor of paternity loss. Although male morphological traits had been previously found to be strongly correlated with reproductive success of nest-holder males, as measured by the number of eggs collected in the male’s nest, no correlation was found between any of the measured morphological traits and fertilization success for these males. The results suggest a stronger influence of the social environment than of morphological variables in the proportion of lost fertilizations by nest-holder males of this species.

  • Distinct patterns of gene expression often underlie intra- and intersexual differences, and the study of this set of coregulated genes is essential to understand the emergence of complex behavioural phenotypes. Here, we describe the development of a de novo transcriptome and brain gene expression profiles of wild-caught peacock blenny, Salaria pavo, an intertidal fish with sex-role reversal in courtship behaviour (i.e., females are the courting sex) and sequential alternative reproductive tactics in males (i.e., larger and older nest-holder males and smaller and younger sneaker males occur). Sneakers mimic both female's courtship behaviour and nuptial coloration to get access to nests and sneak fertilizations, and later in life transition into nest-holder males. Thus, this species offers the unique opportunity to study how the regulation of gene expression can contribute to intersex phenotypes and to the sequential expression of male and female behavioural phenotypes by the same individual. We found that at the whole brain level, expression of the sneaker tactic was paralleled by broader and divergent gene expression when compared to either females or nest-holder males, which were more similar between themselves. When looking at sex-biased transcripts, sneaker males are intersex rather than being either nest-holder or female-like, and their transcriptome is simultaneously demasculinized for nest-holder-biased transcripts and feminized for female-biased transcripts. These results indicate that evolutionary changes in reproductive plasticity can be achieved through regulation of gene expression, and in particular by varying the magnitude of expression of sex-biased genes, throughout the lifetime of the same individual.

  • Skip to Next Section Group-living animals must adjust the expression of their social behaviour to changes in their social environment and to transitions between life-history stages, and this social plasticity can be seen as an adaptive trait that can be under positive selection when changes in the environment outpace the rate of genetic evolutionary change. Here, we propose a conceptual framework for understanding the neuromolecular mechanisms of social plasticity. According to this framework, social plasticity is achieved by rewiring or by biochemically switching nodes of a neural network underlying social behaviour in response to perceived social information. Therefore, at the molecular level, it depends on the social regulation of gene expression, so that different genomic and epigenetic states of this brain network correspond to different behavioural states, and the switches between states are orchestrated by signalling pathways that interface the social environment and the genotype. Different types of social plasticity can be recognized based on the observed patterns of inter- versus intra-individual occurrence, time scale and reversibility. It is proposed that these different types of social plasticity rely on different proximate mechanisms at the physiological, neural and genomic level.

  • Studies addressing structure-function relationships of the fish auditory system during development are sparse compared to other taxa. The Batrachoididae has become an important group to investigate mechanisms of auditory plasticity and evolution of auditory-vocal systems. A recent study reported ontogenetic improvements in the inner ear saccule sensitivity of the Lusitanian toadfish, Halobatrachus didactylus, but whether this results from changes in the sensory morphology remains unknown. We investigated how the macula and organization of auditory receptors in the saccule and utricle change during growth in this species. Inner ear sensory epithelia were removed from the end organs of previously PFA-fixed specimens, from non-vocal posthatch fry (<1.4 cm, standard length) to adults (>23 cm). Epithelia were phalloidin-stained and analysed for area, shape, number and orientation patterns of hair cells (HC), and number and size of saccular supporting cells (SC). Saccular macula area expanded 41x in total, and significantly more (relative to body length) among vocal juveniles (2.3–2.9 cm). Saccular HC number increased 25x but HC density decreased, suggesting that HC addition is slower relative to epithelial growth. While SC density decreased, SC apical area increased, contributing to the epithelial expansion. The utricule revealed increased HC density (striolar region) and less epithelial expansion (5x) with growth, contrasting with the saccule that may have a different developmental pattern due to its larger size and main auditory functions. Both macula shape and HC orientation patterns were already established in the posthatch fry and retained throughout growth in both end organs. We suggest that previously reported ontogenetic improvements in saccular sensitivity might be associated with changes in HC number (not density), size and/or molecular mechanisms controlling HC sensitivity. This is one of the first studies investigating the ontogenetic development of the saccule and utricle in a vocal fish and how it potentially relates to auditory enhancement for acoustic communication.

  • Approximately 50 million people are suffering from epilepsy worldwide. Corals have been used for treating epilepsy in traditional Chinese medicine, but the mechanism of this treatment is unknown. In this study, we analyzed the transcriptome of the branching coral Acropora digitifera and obtained its Kyoto Encyclopedia of Genes and Genomes (KEGG), EuKaryotic Orthologous Groups (KOG) and Gene Ontology (GO) annotation. Combined with multiple sequence alignment and phylogenetic analysis, we discovered three polypeptides, we named them AdKuz1, AdKuz2 and AdKuz3, from A. digitifera that showed a close relationship to Kunitz-type peptides. Molecular docking and molecular dynamics simulation indicated that AdKuz1 to 3 could interact with GABAA receptor but AdKuz2–GABAA remained more stable than others. The biological experiments showed that AdKuz1 and AdKuz2 exhibited an anti-inflammatory effect by decreasing the aberrant level of nitric oxide (NO), IL-6, TNF-α and IL-1β induced by LPS in BV-2 cells. In addition, the pentylenetetrazol (PTZ)-induced epileptic effect on zebrafish was remarkably suppressed by AdKuz1 and AdKuz2. AdKuz2 particularly showed superior anti-epileptic effects compared to the other two peptides. Furthermore, AdKuz2 significantly decreased the expression of c-fos and npas4a, which were up-regulated by PTZ treatment. In addition, AdKuz2 reduced the synthesis of glutamate and enhanced the biosynthesis of gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA). In conclusion, the results indicated that AdKuz2 may affect the synthesis of glutamate and GABA and enhance the activity of the GABAA receptor to inhibit the symptoms of epilepsy. We believe, AdKuz2 could be a promising anti-epileptic agent and its mechanism of action should be further investigated.

  • As safety is one of the most important properties of drugs, chemical toxicology prediction has received increasing attentions in the drug discovery research. Traditionally, researchers rely on in vitro and in vivo experiments to test the toxicity of chemical compounds. However, not only are these experiments time consuming and costly, but experiments that involve animal testing are increasingly subject to ethical concerns. While traditional machine learning (ML) methods have been used in the field with some success, the limited availability of annotated toxicity data is the major hurdle for further improving model performance. Inspired by the success of semi-supervised learning (SSL) algorithms, we propose a Graph Convolution Neural Network (GCN) to predict chemical toxicity and trained the network by the Mean Teacher (MT) SSL algorithm. Using the Tox21 data, our optimal SSL-GCN models for predicting the twelve toxicological endpoints achieve an average ROC-AUC score of 0.757 in the test set, which is a 6% improvement over GCN models trained by supervised learning and conventional ML methods. Our SSL-GCN models also exhibit superior performance when compared to models constructed using the built-in DeepChem ML methods. This study demonstrates that SSL can increase the prediction power of models by learning from unannotated data. The optimal unannotated to annotated data ratio ranges between 1:1 and 4:1. This study demonstrates the success of SSL in chemical toxicity prediction; the same technique is expected to be beneficial to other chemical property prediction tasks by utilizing existing large chemical databases. Our optimal model SSL-GCN is hosted on an online server accessible through:

  • Neuropeptides are a group of neuronal signaling molecules that regulate physiological and behavioral processes in animals. Here, we used in silico mining to predict the polypeptide composition of available transcriptomic data of Turbinaria peltata. In total, 118 transcripts encoding putative peptide precursors were discovered. One neuropeptide Y/F-like peptide, named TpNPY, was identified and selected for in silico structural, in silico binding, and pharmacological studies. In our study, the anti-inflammation effect of TpNPY was evaluated using an LPS-stimulated C8-D1A astrocyte cell model. Our results demonstrated that TpNPY, at 0.75–3 μM, inhibited LPS-induced NO production and reduced the expression of iNOS in a dose-dependent manner. Furthermore, TpNPY reduced the secretion of proinflammatory cytokines. Additionally, treatment with TpNPY reduced LPS-mediated elevation of ROS production and the intracellular calcium concentration. Further investigation revealed that TpNPY downregulated the IKK/IκB/NF-κB signaling pathway and inhibited expression of the NLRP3 inflammasome. Through molecular docking and using an NPY receptor antagonist, TpNPY was shown to have the ability to interact with the NPY Y1 receptor. On the basis of these findings, we concluded that TpNPY might prevent LPS-induced injury in astrocytes through activation of the NPY-Y1R.

  • In this study, components of the food-web in Macao wetlands were quantified using stable isotope ratio techniques based on carbon and nitrogen values. The δ13C and δ15N values of particulate organic matter (δ13CPOM and δ15NPOM, respectively) ranged from −30.64 ± 1.0 to −28.1 ± 0.7 ‰, and from −1.11 ± 0.8 to 3.98 ± 0.7 ‰, respectively. The δ13C values of consumer species ranged from −33.94 to −16.92 ‰, showing a wide range from lower values in a freshwater lake and inner bay to higher values in a mangrove forest. The distinct dietary habits of consumer species and the location-specific food source composition were the main factors affecting the δ13C values. The consumer 15N-isotope enrichment values suggested that there were three trophic levels; primary, secondary, and tertiary. The primary consumer trophic level was represented by freshwater herbivorous gastropods, filter-feeding bivalves, and plankton-feeding fish, with a mean δ15N value of 5.052 ‰. The secondary consumer level included four deposit-feeding fish species distributed in Fai Chi Kei Bay and deposit-feeding gastropods in the Lotus Flower Bridge flat, with a mean δ15N value of 6.794 ‰. The tertiary consumers group consisted of four crab species, one shrimp species, and four fish species in the Lotus Flower Bridge Flat, with a mean δ15N value of 13.473 ‰. Their diet mainly comprised organic debris, bottom fauna, and rotten animal tissues. This study confirms the applicability of the isotopic approach in food web studies.

  • Reaction of ultramafic rocks with seawater and subsequent serpentinization has been considered one of the most important factors controlling the formation of ultramafic-hosted seafloor massive sulfide (UM-SMS) deposits. However, the mineralization processes responsible for these deposits remain poorly understood, in particular because they are less abundant as compared with their basaltic counterparts. In this work, serpentinites with different alteration grades collected at the Tianzuo hydrothermal field (THF), Southwest Indian Ridge, were studied. Mineralogical and chemical analyses were performed in the secondary opaque minerals resulting from serpentinization to understand the role of this process during the formation of UM-SMS deposits. Our results show that these opaque minerals mainly consist of magnetite, hematite, pentlandite, and minor pyrite, suggestive of high but varying oxygen and sulfur fugacities. The hematite is characterized by an enrichment in Mg, Si, Ni, and Co as compared with magnetite. Pentlandite associated with hematite has elevated and consistent Ni contents as compared with that associated with magnetite. These results indicate that breakdown and decomposition of primary silicate and sulfide minerals during serpentinization has controlled the sources of ore-forming materials. Concentrations of Te are variable and show a positive correlation with Ni in pentlandite associated with magnetite or hematite, suggesting that gabbroic intrusions provided additional material to the hydrothermal system. Oxidation and sulfidation conditions are ideal for the formation of trisulfur ion S3− in THF, which can significantly improve the capability of hydrothermal fluids for leaching ore-forming metals from the wall rocks, promoting the formation of THF. In addition of reduced systems, hydrothermal fluids with high oxygen and sulfur fugacities triggered by extensive seawater infiltration can most likely also develop in ultramafic-hosted systems. These results suggest that the areas with well-developed fractures are promising candidates for further exploration of UM-SMS deposits along mid-oceanic ridges.

  • The recently explored inactive Tianzuo hydrothermal field, in the amagmatic segment of the ultraslow-spreading Southwest Indian Ridge (SWIR), is closely associated with detachment faults. In this site, sulfide minerals are hosted by serpentine-bearing ultramafic rocks and include high-temperature (isocubanite, sphalerite, and minor pyrrhotite) and low-temperature (pyrite I, marcasite, pyrite II, and covellite) phases. In this study, trace-element concentrations of isocubanite and pyrite II were used to elucidate mineralization processes in ultramafic rocks hosting sulfides. Results show that isocubanite is enriched in metals such as Cu, Co, Sn, Te, Zn, Se, Pb, Bi, Cd, Ag, In, and Mn, and pyrite II is enriched in Mo and Tl. The marked enrichment in Te, Cu, Co, and In in isocubanite (compared with Se, Zn, Ni, and Sn, respectively) is most likely due to the contribution of magmatic fluids from gabbroic intrusions beneath the hydrothermal field. The intrusion of gabbroic magmas would have enhanced serpentinization reactions and provided a relatively oxidizing environment through the dissolution of anhydrite precipitated previously in the reaction zone, within high temperature and low pH conditions. This might have facilitated the extraction of metals by initial hydrothermal fluids, leading to the general enrichment of most metals in isocubanite. Metals in pyrite II have compositions similar to those of isocubanite, except for strong depletion in magmatically derived Te, Cu, Co, and In. This means that serpentinization processes had a dominating role in pyrite II precipitation as well. The enrichment of pyrite II in Mo and Tl is also indicative of seawater contribution in its composition. The study concludes that serpentinization reactions contribute effectively both to high- and low-temperature sulfide mineralization at Tianzuo hydrothermal field, with gabbroic intrusions further promoting high-temperature sulfide mineralization, providing additional metals, fluids and heat. In contrast, low-temperature sulfide mineralization occurred during the cooling of gabbroic intrusions, with decreasing rates of serpentinization reactions and a significant influence of seawater.

Last update from database: 2/1/23, 1:23 AM (UTC)