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Evidence for contrasting roles for prolactin in eusocial naked mole-rats, Heterocephalus glaber and Damaraland mole-rats, Fukomys damarensis
Univ Pretoria, South Africa.
Univ Pretoria, South Africa.
Univ Pretoria, South Africa.
Univ Cape Town, South Africa.
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2018 (English)In: Biology Letters, ISSN 1744-9561, E-ISSN 1744-957X, Vol. 14, no 5, article id 20180150Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Elevated prolactin (PRL) has been associated with the expression of social and cooperative behaviours in a number of vertebrate species, as well as suppression of reproduction. As social mole-rats exhibit both of these traits, PRL is a prime candidate in mediating their social phenotype. While naked and Damaraland mole-rats (NMRs and DMRs) have evolved eusociality independently within their family, both species exhibit an extreme skew in lifetime reproductive success, with breeding restricted to a single female and one or two males. Non-breeding NMRs of both sexes are physiologically inhibited from reproducing, while in DMRs only the non-breeding females are physiologically suppressed. Newly emerging work has implicated the dopamine system and PRL as a component in socially induced reproductive suppression and eusociality in NMR, but the DMR remains unstudied in this context. To investigate evolutionary convergence in the role of PRL in shaping African mole-rat eusociality, we determined plasma PRL concentrations in breeders and non-breeders of both sexes, comparing DMRs with NMRs. Among samples from non-breeding NMRs 80% had detectable plasma PRL concentrations. As a benchmark, these often (37%) exceeding those considered clinically hyperprolactinaemic (25 ng ml(-1)) in humans: mean +/- s.e.m.: 34.81 +/- 5.87 ngml(-1); range 0.00-330.30 ng ml(-1). Conversely, 85% of non-breeding DMR samples had undetectable values and none had concentrations above 25 ng ml(-1): 0.71 +/- 0.38 ng ml(-1); 0.00-23.87 ngml(-1). Breeders in both species had the expected variance in plasma PRL concentrations as part of normal reproductive function, with lactating queens having significantly higher values. These results suggest that while elevated PRL in non-breeders is implicated in NMR eusociality, this may not be the case in DMRs, and suggests a lack of evolutionary convergence in the proximate control of the social phenotype in these mole-rats.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2018. Vol. 14, no 5, article id 20180150
Keywords [en]
prolactin, African mole-rats, reproductive suppression, cooperative breeding
National Category
Ecology
Research subject
Natural Science, Ecology
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:lnu:diva-76850DOI: 10.1098/rsbl.2018.0150ISI: 000433530000018PubMedID: 29794008OAI: oai:DiVA.org:lnu-76850DiVA, id: diva2:1232899
Available from: 2018-07-13 Created: 2018-07-13 Last updated: 2018-07-13Bibliographically approved

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Zöttl, Markus

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