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Genes 2019, 10(3), 219;

DNA Methylation Patterns in the Round Goby Hypothalamus Support an On-The-Spot Decision Scenario for Territorial Behavior

Program Man-Society-Environment, Department of Environmental Sciences, University of Basel, Vesalgasse 1, CH-4051 Basel, Switzerland
Genetic Diversity Centre Zurich, ETH Zurich, Universitätstrasse 16, CH-8092 Zurich, Switzerland
Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research (IZW), Department of Evolutionary Genetics, Alfred-Kowalke-Str. 17, D-10315 Berlin, Germany
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 31 January 2019 / Revised: 26 February 2019 / Accepted: 1 March 2019 / Published: 14 March 2019
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Epigenetics and Adaptation)
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The question as to how early life experiences are stored on a molecular level and affect traits later in life is highly topical in ecology, medicine, and epigenetics. In this study, we use a fish model to investigate whether DNA methylation mediates early life experiences and predetermines a territorial male reproductive phenotype. In fish, adult reproductive phenotypes frequently depend on previous life experiences and are often associated with distinct morphological traits. DNA methylation is an epigenetic mechanism which is both sensitive to environmental conditions and stably inherited across cell divisions. We therefore investigate early life predisposition in the round goby Neogobius melanostomus by growth back-calculations and then study DNA methylation by MBD-Seq in the brain region controlling vertebrate reproductive behavior, the hypothalamus. We find a link between the territorial reproductive phenotype and high growth rates in the first year of life. However, hypothalamic DNA methylation patterns reflect the current behavioral status independently of early life experiences. Together, our data suggest a non-predetermination scenario in the round goby, in which indeterminate males progress to a non-territorial status in the spawning season, and in which some males then assume a specialized territorial phenotype if current conditions are favorable. View Full-Text
Keywords: Neogobius melanostomus; reproductive strategy; epigenetic mechanisms; brain; latent effects Neogobius melanostomus; reproductive strategy; epigenetic mechanisms; brain; latent effects

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Somerville, V.; Schwaiger, M.; Hirsch, P.E.; Walser, J.-C.; Bussmann, K.; Weyrich, A.; Burkhardt-Holm, P.; Adrian-Kalchhauser, I. DNA Methylation Patterns in the Round Goby Hypothalamus Support an On-The-Spot Decision Scenario for Territorial Behavior. Genes 2019, 10, 219.

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