Seroton-ing down the stress: serotonergic activity in response to predators in threespined stickleback (Gasterosteus aculeatus)
Michaela Rogers, Hayden Ott
Animals constantly face stress in the environment due to rapid human-induced changes. A strong interest lies in the evolution of coping mechanisms that can help organisms deal with and respond to these stressors. Serotonin is a neurotransmitter that is highly conserved across taxonomic groups and is upregulated in response to a broad range of stressors, including predator exposure. Serotonin upregulation can help organisms cope with the threat of a predator by decreasing fear and anxiety. Previous studies have shown an increase in serotonergic activity following acute predator exposures in mice, rats, and fish after only one exposure, but less is known about repeated stimulation of the serotonergic system. I chased stickleback for 15 seconds with a model trout predator every other day for 12 days. I used high-performance liquid chromatography (HPLC) to measure serotonin (5-HT) and its metabolite (5-HIAA) in whole brain tissue after the last day of exposure. We will use the 5-HIAA/5-HT turnover ratio to further assess the activity of the cells that integrate the synthesis, release, reuptake, and/or metabolism of serotonin. If predator exposure increases stress, then predator-exposed individuals will have higher levels of serotonergic activity. Individual differences in monoamine levels (e.g. serotonin) following stress exposure have been associated with individual differences in aggressiveness and risk-taking behaviors. Higher levels of serotonin in the brain following predator exposure provide implications on behavioral responses such as predator inspection and conspecific interactions following stressful events. These results can be linked to behavioral studies to explain variation in predator-exposed individuals.
Primary Advisor's Department
Stander Symposium, College of Arts and Sciences
Institutional Learning Goals
Critical Evaluation of Our Times
"Seroton-ing down the stress: serotonergic activity in response to predators in threespined stickleback (Gasterosteus aculeatus)" (2023). Stander Symposium Projects. 3190.
Presentation: 10:45 a.m.-12:00 p.m., Kennedy Union Ballroom