Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Swimming with hormones: Researchers unravel ancient urges that drive the social decisions of fish

10.10.2012
Researchers have discovered that a form of oxytocin—the hormone responsible for making humans fall in love—has a similar effect on fish, suggesting it is a key regulator of social behaviour that has evolved and endured since ancient times.

The findings, published in the latest edition of the journal Animal Behaviour, help answer an important evolutionary question: why do some species develop complex social behaviours while others spend much of their lives alone?

"We know how this hormone affects humans," explains Adam Reddon, lead researcher and a graduate student in the Department of Psychology, Neuroscience & Behaviour at McMaster University. "It is related to love, monogamy, even risky behaviour, but much less is known about its effects on fish."

Specifically, researchers examined the cichlid fish Neolamprologus pulcher, a highly social species found in Lake Tanganyika in Africa.

These cichlids are unusual because they form permanent hierarchical social groups made up of a dominant breeding pair and many helpers that look after the young and defend their territory.

For the experiments, researchers injected the cichlids with either isotocin—a "fish version" of oxytocin—or a control saline solution.

When placed in a simulated territorial competition with a single perceived rival, the isotocin-treated fish were more aggressive towards large opponents, regardless of their own size.

When placed in a larger group situation, isotocin-treated fish became more submissive when faced with aggression from more dominant group members. Such signals are important in this species because they placate the dominant members of the group, say researchers.

"The hormone increases responsiveness to social information and may act as an important social glue," says Reddon. "It ensures the fish handle conflict well and remain a cohesive group because they will have shorter, less costly fights."

"We already knew that this class of neuropeptides are ancient and are found in nearly all vertebrate groups," says Sigal Balshine, a professor in the Department of Psychology, Neuroscience & Behaviour. "What is especially exciting about these findings, is that they bolster the idea that function of these hormones, as modulators of social behaviour, has also been conserved."

McMaster University, one of four Canadian universities listed among the Top 100 universities in the world, is renowned for its innovation in both learning and discovery. It has a student population of 23,000, and more than 156,000 alumni in 140 countries.

For more information, please contact:

Michelle Donovan
Public Relations Manager
McMaster University
905-525-9140 ext. 22869
donovam@mcmaster.ca
Wade Hemsworth
Public Relations Manager
McMaster University
905-525-9140, ext. 27988
hemswor@mcmaster.ca

Michelle Donovan | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.mcmaster.ca

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht 'Y' a protein unicorn might matter in glaucoma
23.10.2017 | Georgia Institute of Technology

nachricht Microfluidics probe 'cholesterol' of the oil industry
23.10.2017 | Rice University

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Salmonella as a tumour medication

HZI researchers developed a bacterial strain that can be used in cancer therapy

Salmonellae are dangerous pathogens that enter the body via contaminated food and can cause severe infections. But these bacteria are also known to target...

Im Focus: Neutron star merger directly observed for the first time

University of Maryland researchers contribute to historic detection of gravitational waves and light created by event

On August 17, 2017, at 12:41:04 UTC, scientists made the first direct observation of a merger between two neutron stars--the dense, collapsed cores that remain...

Im Focus: Breaking: the first light from two neutron stars merging

Seven new papers describe the first-ever detection of light from a gravitational wave source. The event, caused by two neutron stars colliding and merging together, was dubbed GW170817 because it sent ripples through space-time that reached Earth on 2017 August 17. Around the world, hundreds of excited astronomers mobilized quickly and were able to observe the event using numerous telescopes, providing a wealth of new data.

Previous detections of gravitational waves have all involved the merger of two black holes, a feat that won the 2017 Nobel Prize in Physics earlier this month....

Im Focus: Smart sensors for efficient processes

Material defects in end products can quickly result in failures in many areas of industry, and have a massive impact on the safe use of their products. This is why, in the field of quality assurance, intelligent, nondestructive sensor systems play a key role. They allow testing components and parts in a rapid and cost-efficient manner without destroying the actual product or changing its surface. Experts from the Fraunhofer IZFP in Saarbrücken will be presenting two exhibits at the Blechexpo in Stuttgart from 7–10 November 2017 that allow fast, reliable, and automated characterization of materials and detection of defects (Hall 5, Booth 5306).

When quality testing uses time-consuming destructive test methods, it can result in enormous costs due to damaging or destroying the products. And given that...

Im Focus: Cold molecules on collision course

Using a new cooling technique MPQ scientists succeed at observing collisions in a dense beam of cold and slow dipolar molecules.

How do chemical reactions proceed at extremely low temperatures? The answer requires the investigation of molecular samples that are cold, dense, and slow at...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

3rd Symposium on Driving Simulation

23.10.2017 | Event News

ASEAN Member States discuss the future role of renewable energy

17.10.2017 | Event News

World Health Summit 2017: International experts set the course for the future of Global Health

10.10.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Microfluidics probe 'cholesterol' of the oil industry

23.10.2017 | Life Sciences

Gamma rays will reach beyond the limits of light

23.10.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

The end of pneumonia? New vaccine offers hope

23.10.2017 | Health and Medicine

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>