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Trading new neurons for status: Adult hippocampal neurogenesis in eusocial Damaraland mole-rats


Oosthuizen, M K; Amrein, I (2016). Trading new neurons for status: Adult hippocampal neurogenesis in eusocial Damaraland mole-rats. Neuroscience, 324:227-237.

Abstract

Diversity in social structures, from solitary to eusocial, is a prominent feature of subterranean African mole-rat species. Damaraland mole-rats are eusocial, they live in colonies that are characterized by a reproductive division of labor and a subdivision into castes based on physiology and behavior. Damaraland mole-rats are exceptionally long lived and reproductive animals show delayed aging compared to non-reproductive animals. In the present study, we described the hippocampal architecture and the rate of hippocampal neurogenesis of wild-derived, adult Damaraland mole-rats in relation to sex, relative age and social status or caste. Overall, Damaraland mole-rats were found to have a small hippocampus and low rates of neurogenesis. We found no correlation between neurogenesis and sex or relative age. Social status or caste was the most prominent modulator of neurogenesis. An inverse relationship between neurogenesis and social status was apparent, with queens displaying the lowest neurogenesis while the worker mole-rats had the most. As there is no natural progression from one caste to another, social status within a colony was relatively stable and is reflected in the level of neurogenesis. Our results correspond to those found in the naked mole-rat, and may reflect an evolutionary and environmentally conserved trait within social mole-rat species.

Abstract

Diversity in social structures, from solitary to eusocial, is a prominent feature of subterranean African mole-rat species. Damaraland mole-rats are eusocial, they live in colonies that are characterized by a reproductive division of labor and a subdivision into castes based on physiology and behavior. Damaraland mole-rats are exceptionally long lived and reproductive animals show delayed aging compared to non-reproductive animals. In the present study, we described the hippocampal architecture and the rate of hippocampal neurogenesis of wild-derived, adult Damaraland mole-rats in relation to sex, relative age and social status or caste. Overall, Damaraland mole-rats were found to have a small hippocampus and low rates of neurogenesis. We found no correlation between neurogenesis and sex or relative age. Social status or caste was the most prominent modulator of neurogenesis. An inverse relationship between neurogenesis and social status was apparent, with queens displaying the lowest neurogenesis while the worker mole-rats had the most. As there is no natural progression from one caste to another, social status within a colony was relatively stable and is reflected in the level of neurogenesis. Our results correspond to those found in the naked mole-rat, and may reflect an evolutionary and environmentally conserved trait within social mole-rat species.

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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:04 Faculty of Medicine > Institute of Anatomy
Dewey Decimal Classification:570 Life sciences; biology
610 Medicine & health
Language:English
Date:12 March 2016
Deposited On:20 Jan 2017 12:25
Last Modified:01 Jul 2017 00:01
Publisher:Elsevier
ISSN:0306-4522
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1016/j.neuroscience.2016.03.020
PubMed ID:26979050

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Licence: Creative Commons: Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International (CC BY-NC-ND 4.0)

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