Breeding behavior in the blind Mexican cavefish and its river-dwelling conspecific

Abstract : Fish reproductive patterns are very diverse in terms of breeding frequency, mating system, sexual dimorphisms and selection, mate choice, spawning site choice, courtship patterns, spawning behaviors and parental care. Here we have compared the breeding behavior of the surface-dwelling and cave-dwelling morphs of the characiform A. mexicanus, with the goals of documenting the spawning behavior in this emerging model organism, its possible evolution after cave colonization, and the sensory modalities involved. Using infrared video recordings, we showed that cave and surface Astyanax spawning behavior is identical, occurs in the dark, and can be divided into 5 rapid phases repeated many times, about once per minute, during spawning sessions which last about one hour and involve one female and several males. Such features may constitute "pre-adaptive traits" which have facilitated fish survival after cave colonization, and may also explain how the two morphs can hybridize in the wild and in the laboratory. Accordingly, cross-breeding experiments involving females of one morphotype and males of the other morphotype showed the same behavior including the same five phases. However, breeding between cavefish females and surface fish males was more frequent than the reverse. Finally, cavefish female pheromonal solution was able to trigger strong behavioral responses in cavefish males-but not on surface fish males. Lastly, egg production seemed higher in surface fish females than in cavefish females. These results are discussed with regards to the sensory modalities involved in triggering reproductive behavior in the two morphs, as well as its possible ongoing evolution.
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Contributor : Sylvie Retaux <>
Submitted on : Thursday, November 7, 2019 - 1:39:54 PM
Last modification on : Saturday, November 9, 2019 - 1:37:53 AM

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Victor Simon, Carole Hyacinthe, Sylvie Rétaux. Breeding behavior in the blind Mexican cavefish and its river-dwelling conspecific. PLoS ONE, Public Library of Science, 2019, 14 (2), pp.e0212591. ⟨10.1371/journal.pone.0212591⟩. ⟨hal-02353629⟩

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