Hormonal modulation of cannibalistic behaviors in mosquito (Culex pipiens) larvae

El Husseiny, Iman, Elbrense, Hanaa, Roeder, Thomas and El Kholy, Samar (2018) Hormonal modulation of cannibalistic behaviors in mosquito (Culex pipiens) larvae Journal of Insect Physiology, 109 . pp. 144-148. DOI 10.1016/j.jinsphys.2018.08.001.

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Cannibalism has been observed occasionally in a limited number of different animal species, but the underlying mechanisms that foster this behavior are mostly unknown. Here we show that mosquito (Culex pipiens) larvae show this behavior towards conspecifics under certain conditions. Cannibalism was only observed in 4th instar larvae and only in response to starvation. Well fed animals never showed any cannibalistic behavior. Starvation induced cannibalism of Culex 4th instar was predominantly directed towards 3rd instars rather than to 1st or 2nd instar larvae. Specific mandibular structures of these larvae enable this cannibalistic behavior. We could show that treatment with the biogenic amine octopamine, which is known to be involved in the control of starvation and aggression, increased the rate of cannibalism of food-deprived 4th instar larvae significantly. Incubation with the octopamine receptor antagonist phentolamine suppressed this cannibalistic behavior. Moreover, octopamine not only increased the rate of cannibalism, it also induced a shift towards smaller prey. A role of octopamine in this starvation induced behavior was further supported by direct measurements of the total content of this important neuroactive compound. Taken together, we could show that 4th instar mosquito larvae showed cannibalistic behavior after starvation and that this behavior apparently depends on octopamine.

Document Type: Article
Keywords: Cannibalism, Culex pipiens larvae, Starvation, Octopamine, HPLC
Research affiliation: Kiel University > Kiel Marine Science
OceanRep > The Future Ocean - Cluster of Excellence
Kiel University
Refereed: Yes
DOI etc.: 10.1016/j.jinsphys.2018.08.001
ISSN: 0022-1910
Date Deposited: 13 Aug 2019 10:36
Last Modified: 19 Aug 2019 18:35
URI: http://eprints.uni-kiel.de/id/eprint/47487

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