Neuroendocrine and behavioral responses to weak electric fields in adult sea lampreys (Petromyzon marinus)

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We characterized the behavioral and neuroendocrine responses of adult sea lampreys (Petromyzon marinus) to weak electric fields. Adult sea lampreys, captured during upstream spawning migration, exhibited limited active behaviors during exposure to weak electric fields and spent the most time attached to the wall of the testing arena near the cathode (−). For adult male sea lampreys, exposure to weak electric fields resulted in increased lamprey (l) GnRH-I mRNA expression but decreased lGnRH-I immunoreactivities in the forebrain, and decreased Jun (a neuronal activation marker) mRNA levels in the brain stem. Similar effects were not observed in the brains of female sea lampreys after weak electric field stimulation. The influence of electroreception on forebrain lGnRH suggests that electroreception may modulate the reproductive systems in adult male sea lampreys. The changes in Jun expression may be associated with swimming inhibition during weak electric field stimulation. The results for adult sea lampreys are the opposite of those obtained using parasitic-stage sea lampreys, which displayed increased activity during and after cathodal stimulation. Our results demonstrate that adult sea lampreys are sensitive to weak electric fields, which may play a role in reproduction. They also suggest that electrical stimuli mediate different behaviors in feeding-stage and spawning-stage sea lampreys.

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