Sensorimotor coordination emerges early in development. The maturation period is characterized by the establishment of somatotopic cortical maps, the emergence of long-range cortical connections, heightened experience-dependent plasticity and spontaneous uncoordinated skeletal movement. How these various processes cooperate to allow the somatosensory system to form a three-dimensional representation of the body is not known. In the visual system, interactions between spontaneous network patterns and afferent activity have been suggested to be vital for normal development. Although several intrinsic cortical patterns of correlated neuronal activity have been described in developing somatosensory cortex in vitro, the in vivo patterns in the critical developmental period and the influence of physiological sensory inputs on these patterns remain unknown. We report here that in the intact somatosensory cortex of the newborn rat in vivo, spatially confined spindle bursts represent the first and only organized network pattern. The localized spindles are selectively triggered in a somatotopic manner by spontaneous muscle twitches, motor patterns analogous to human fetal movements. We suggest that the interaction between movement-triggered sensory feedback signals and self-organized spindle oscillations shapes the formation of cortical connections required for sensorimotor coordination.
Mitochondria have a fundamental role in the transduction of energy from food into ATP. The coupling between food oxidation and ATP production is never perfect, but may nevertheless be of evolutionary significance. The ‘uncoupling to survive’ hypothesis suggests that ‘mild’ mitochondrial uncoupling evolved as a protective mechanism against the excessive production of damaging reactive oxygen species (ROS). Because resource allocation and ROS production are thought to shape animal life histories, alternative life-history trajectories might be driven by individual variation in the degree of mitochondrial uncoupling. We tested this hypothesis in a small bird species, the zebra finch (Taeniopygia guttata), by treating adults with the artificial mitochondrial uncoupler 2,4-dinitrophenol (DNP) over a 32-month period. In agreement with our expectations, the uncoupling treatment increased metabolic rate. However, we found no evidence that treated birds enjoyed lower oxidative stress levels or greater survival rates, in contrast to previous results in other taxa. In vitro experiments revealed lower sensitivity of ROS production to DNP in mitochondria isolated from skeletal muscles of zebra finch than mouse. In addition, we found significant reductions in the number of eggs laid and in the inflammatory immune response in treated birds. Altogether, our data suggest that the ‘uncoupling to survive’ hypothesis may not be applicable for zebra finches, presumably because of lower effects of mitochondrial uncoupling on mitochondrial ROS production in birds than in mammals. Nevertheless, mitochondrial uncoupling appeared to be a potential life-history regulator of traits such as fecundity and immunity at adulthood, even with food supplied ad libitum.
Criteria for the evaluation of groundwater quality are essentially based on the physical and chemical characteristics of the water, but biological and ecological indicators are needed to estimate groundwater ecosystem disturbance correctly. Such ecological evaluations may use communities (of micro-or macro-organisms) as disturbance indicators, but the density and diversity of groundwater fauna can be too low to permit effective evaluation. In these cases, the use of sentinels (i.e., caged organisms in situ) may complement physical and chemical indicators in the assessment of subterranean ecosystems. We tested the use of aquatic crustaceans (Amphipoda and Isopoda) as sentinel organisms by caging and exposing them in piezometers. In a first step, four species were tested in six piezometers located in the east Lyon aquifer, located upstream and downstream of three urban storm-water infiltration basins. In a second step, we used two species: the epigean Amphipoda Gammarus pulex for a short-duration exposure (one week) and the stygobite Niphargus rhenorhodanensis for a long-duration exposure (one month). Sentinels were tested in four infiltration basins, using upstream (control) and downstream (impacted) piezometers, on three occasions in 2010 and 2011 and in the laboratory using three types of water with increasing pollution. Infiltration of storm water induced a decrease in dissolved oxygen (DO) and an increase in dissolved organic carbon (DOC) between control and impacted piezometers. We therefore proposed a Water-Quality Index (WQI) based on the ratio of DO to DOC concentrations in groundwater. We measured the survival rates and the levels of body stores (glycogen and triglyceride) at the end of the exposure period. The survival rates of both species, when significantly different, were lower in impacted than in control piezometers, but body-store levels did not change with location. We propose an Ecophysiological Index (EPI) that combines the survival rate and the state of body stores. The EPI of sentinels at the end of each exposure period was negatively correlated with DOC concentrations and positively correlated with WQI for both species; this measure was also positively correlated with DO concentrations for N. rhenorhodanensis. Short-term exposure (i.e., one week) of an epigean species (such as G. pulex) may be used to assess acute toxic disturbance, while a longer exposure (i.e., one month) of a stygobite organism (here N. rhenorhodanensis) may be used to assess diffuse organic pollution and for a global evaluation of groundwater ecological quality if the appropriate ecophysiological indicators are used to estimate stress during exposure. (C) 2013 Elsevier B. V. All rights reserved.
‘Fight-or-flight’ stress responses allow animals to cope adaptively tosudden threats by mobilizing energy resources and priming the bodyfor action. Because such responses can be costly and redirectbehavior and energy from reproduction to survival, they are likely to beshaped by specific life-history stages, depending on the availableenergy resources and the commitment to reproduction. Here, weconsider how heart rate (HR) responses to acute stressors areaffected by the advancing breeding season in a colonial seabird, theking penguin (Aptenodytes patagonicus). We subjected 77 birds (44males, 33 females) at various stages of incubation and chick-rearingto three experimental stressors (metal sound, distant approach andcapture) known to vary both in their intensity and associated risk, andmonitored their HR responses. Our results show that HR increase inresponse to acute stressors was progressively attenuated with thestage of breeding from incubation to chick-rearing. Stress responsesdid not vary according to nutritional status or seasonal timing(whether breeding was initiated early or late in the season), butwere markedly lower during chick-rearing than during incubation.This pattern was obvious for all three stressors. We discuss how‘fight-or-flight’ responses may be modulated by considering theenergy commitment to breeding, nutritional status and reproductivevalue of the brood in breeding seabirds.
Breeding at the right time is important for successful reproduction. In birds, stressful environmental conditions are known to delay the timing of breeding but the underlying mechanisms are poorly understood. The stress hormone corticosterone appears to be a good candidate for mediating egg-laying date according to early environmental conditions and physiological state. By experimentally reducing the release of corticosterone in black-legged kittiwakes during the pre-laying period, we tested whether egg-laying date was mechanistically linked to corticosterone levels. Male and female kittiwakes were implanted with a low dose of exogenous corticosterone to inhibit endogenous corticosterone production. According to our predictions, the experimental reduction of corticosterone release was paralleled by a significant advancement of egg laying in females (around 4 days earlier). In addition, females with experimentally reduced corticosterone release gained mass during the pre-laying period compared with controls. Ultimately, the advancement of egg laying in females with experimentally reduced corticosterone levels was associated with an enhanced breeding success. This effect was strongly sex specific. In corticosterone-treated male kittiwakes, egg-laying date and reproductive success were not affected, but breeding probability was lower than in controls. This corticosterone treatment did not influence immediate clutch size, or return rate and breeding decision the following year. Our results support the hypothesis that corticosterone secretion during the pre-laying period mediates the timing of breeding in this long-lived seabird, possibly through the dynamics of energy reserves.
The impact of diets upon the fatty acid composition of haemocyte polar lipids and consequently upon immune parameters has been tested in the oyster Crassostrea gigas and the clam Ruditapes philippinarum. Oysters and clams were fed each of three cultured algae: Chaetoceros calcitrans, which is rich in 20:5(n-3) and 20:4(n-6) and poor in 22:6(n-3) fatty acids; T-Iso (Isochrysis sp.), which is rich in 22:6(n-3) and deficient in 20:5(n-3) and 20:4(n-6); and Tetraselmis suecica, which is deficient in 22:6(n-3) and contains only small amounts of 20:5(n-3) and 20:4(n-6). Fatty acid composition of haemocyte polar lipids was greatly affected by the diet. Oysters and clams fed C. calcitrans maintained a higher proportion of 20:5(n-3) and 20:4(n-6) in their haemocyte polar lipids, while these polyunsaturated fatty acids decreased drastically for animals fed T-Iso. However, the T-Iso diet maintained 22:6(n-3) in haemocyte polar lipids of both species. Higher 20:5(n-3) and 20:4(n-6) contents in diets appeared to have a positive effect upon total haemocyte count, granulocyte percentage, phagocytic rate and oxidative activity of clam haemocytes. Similarly, a positive effect of 20:5(n-3) on oxidative activity of oyster haemocytes was observed but to a lesser extent than in clams. Interestingly, when oyster haemocytes are submitted to a stressful condition, a positive effect of a higher dietary 22:6(n-3) content on the phagocytic rate was noticed.
Detailed investigations on the structural and mechanical properties of the forewing of the cicada were carried out. Measurement of the structures of the wings showed that the thickness of the membrane of each cell and the diameter of each vein were non-uniform in both the longitudinal and transverse directions, and their means were approximately 12.2 and 133.3 mum, respectively. However, the aspect ratios of the wings and the bodies were quite uniform and were approximately equal to 2.98 and 2.13, respectively. Based on the measured thickness, mass and area of the membranes of the cells, the mean density and the mean area density of the wing were approximately 2.3 g cm(-3) and 2.8 x 10(-3) g cm(-2), respectively. In addition, the diameters of the veins of the wings, including the diameters of the holes in the vein of the leading edge, were examined. The mechanical properties of the wing were investigated separately by nanoindentation and tensile testing. The results indicated that the mean Young's modulus, hardness and yield stress of the membranes of the wings were approximately 3.7 Gpa, 0.2 Gpa and 29 Mpa, respectively, and the mean Young's modulus and strength of the veins along the direction of the venation of wings were approximately 1.9 Gpa and 52 Mpa, respectively. Finally, the relevant results were briefly analyzed and discussed, providing a guideline to the biomimetic design of the aerofoil materials of micro air vehicles.
At the time of weaning, infant animals have little experience with hard food, and thus their skulls are not likely to be epigenetically adapted for the loads imposed by mastication. We examined bone strain in the zygomatic arch of 4-week-old weanling piglets. Functional strains in piglets differed from those previously reported for older pigs (Herring et al., 1996;Rafferty et al., 2000) in that the squamosal bone was not bent in the horizontal plane and the principal tensile strain on the zygomatic bone did not correspond to the direction of masseter muscle pull. Strain patterns were more variable in piglets than in older pigs. In older pigs masticatory strains can be reproduced by stimulating the masseter muscles. When the piglet masseter was stimulated, strain patterns were more similar to those of older pigs, but shear strain magnitudes were the largest yet recorded from mammalian skull bones, up to 4000 με. To put these findings in the context of skeletal adaptation, 45 dry skulls, including some animals from the strain study, were measured. Reduced major axis regressions indicated that the infant arch was rounder in cross section and straighter than that of older animals. With growth the arch became dorsoventrally higher, while mediolateral thickness decreased in the squamosal bone. Overall, these changes should make strain more predictable, explaining the lower variability in older animals. Other factors likely to be important in causing unique strain regimes in piglets include (1) unfamiliarity with hard food, (2) greater importance of muscles other than the same-side masseter, and (3) greater proximity of molariform teeth to the arch. Collectively, these data indicate that the skeleton is not pre-adapted for specific functional loads.
An evoked-potential audiogram was measured for an Indo-Pacific humpback dolphin (Sousa chinensis) living in the dolphinarium of Nanning Zoo, China. Rhythmic 20 ms pip trains composed of cosine-enveloped 0.25 ms tone pips at a pip rate of 1 kHz were presented as sound stimuli. The dolphin was trained to remain still at the water surface and to wear soft latex suction-cup EEG electrodes used to measure the animal's envelope-following evoked potentials to the sound stimuli. Responses to 1000 rhythmic 20 ms pip trains for each amplitude/frequency combination were averaged and analysed using a fast Fourier transform to obtain an evoked auditory response. The hearing threshold was defined as the zero crossing point of the response input-output function using linear regression. Fourteen frequencies ranging from 5.6 to 152 kHz were studied. The results showed that most of the thresholds were lower than 90 dB re. 1 mu Pa (r.m.s.), covering a frequency range from 11.2 to 128 kHz, and the lowest threshold of 47 dB was measured at 45 kHz. The audiogram, which is a function of hearing threshold versus stimulus carrier frequency, presented a U-shape with a region of high hearing sensitivity (within 20 dB of the lowest threshold) between approximately 20 and 120 kHz. At frequencies lower than this high-sensitivity region, thresholds increased at a rate of approximately 11 dB octave(-1) up to 93 dB at 5.6 kHz. The thresholds at high frequencies above 108 kHz increased steeply at a rate of 130 dB octave(-1) up to 127 dB at 152 kHz.
Giant liposomes; are proposed as a potential delivery system in marine copepods, the dominant constituent of the zooplankton. Liposomes were prepared in the same size range as the food ingested by copepods (mean diameter of about 7 pm). The encapsulation of a hydrophilic and high molecular mass fluorescent compound, fluorescein isothiocyanate-dextran (FitcDx), within the liposomes provided a means of verifying copepod ingestion when viewed with the confocal laser-scanning microscope. Females of the calanoid copepod Temora stylifera were fed with FitcDx-encapsulated liposomes alone or mixed with the dinoflagellate alga Prorocentrum minimum. Control copepods were incubated with the P. minimum diet alone. Egg production rates, percentage egg-hatching success and number of faecal pellets produced were evaluated after 24 h and 48 h of feeding. Epifluorescence of copepod gut and faecal pellets indicated that the liposomes were actively ingested by T. stylifera in both experimental food conditions, with or without the dinoflagellate diet. Ingestion rates calculated using H-3-labelled liposomes indicated that females ingested more liposomes when P. minimum was added to the solution (16% vs 7.6% of uptake). When liposomes were supplied together with the algal diet, egg production rate, egg-hatching success and faecal pellet production were as high as those observed for the control diet. By contrary, egg production and hatching success were very low with a diet of liposomes alone and faecal pellet production was similar to that recorded in starved females. This results suggest that liposomes alone did not add any nutritive value to the diet, making them a good candidate as inert carriers to study the nutrient requirements or biological activity of different compounds. In particular, such liposomes are proposed as carriers for diatom-derived polyunsaturated aldehydes, which are known to impair copepod embryo viability. Other potential applications of liposomes as a delivery system of drugs and nutrients in copepod mass cultivation, or as carriers of pollutants to study copepod physiology in ecotoxicological experiments, are also discussed.
In the genome ofDrosophila melanogaster, four genes coding for aldehyde oxidases (AOX1–4) were identified on chromosome 3. Phylogenetic analysis showed that the AOX gene cluster evolved via independent duplication events in the vertebrate and invertebrate lineages. The functional role and the substrate specificity of the distinctDrosophilaAOX enzymes is unknown. Two loss-of-function mutant alleles in this gene region,low pyridoxal oxidase(Polpo) andaldehyde oxidase-1(Aldox-1n1) are associated with a phenotype characterized by undetectable AOX enzymatic activity. However, the genes involved and the corresponding mutations have not yet been identified. In this study we characterized the activities, substrate specificities and expression profiles of the four AOX enzymes inD. melanogaster. We show that thePolpo-associated phenotype is the consequence of a structural alteration of theAOX1gene. We identified an 11-bp deletion in thePolpoallele, resulting in a frame-shift event, which removes the molybdenum cofactor domain of the encoded enzyme. Furthermore, we show that AOX2 activity is detectable only during metamorphosis and characterize aMinos-AOX2insertion in this developmental gene that disrupts its activity. We demonstrate that theAldox-1n1phenotype maps to theAOX3gene and AOX4 activity is not detectable in our assays.
Caudo-rostral whole-field visual motion elicits forward locomotion in many organisms, including larval zebrafish. Here, we investigate the dependence on the latency to initiate this forward swimming as a function of the speed of the visual motion. We show that latency is highly dependent on speed for slow speeds (1.5?s, which is much longer than neuronal transduction processes. What mechanisms underlie these long latencies? We propose two alternative, biologically inspired models that could account for this latency to initiate swimming: an integrate and fire model, which is history dependent, and a stochastic Poisson model, which has no history dependence. We use these models to predict the behavior of larvae when presented with whole-field motion of varying speed and find that the stochastic process shows better agreement with the experimental data. Finally, we discuss possible neuronal implementations of these models.