Acute and chronic gregarisation are associated with distinct DNA methylation fingerprints in desert locusts.
journal contributionposted on 2016-11-08, 12:47 authored by E. B. Mallon, H. E. Amarasinghe, Swidbert R. Ott
Desert locusts (Schistocerca gregaria) show a dramatic form of socially induced phenotypic plasticity known as phase polyphenism. In the absence of conspecifics, locusts occur in a shy and cryptic solitarious phase. Crowding with conspecifics drives a behavioural transformation towards gregariousness that occurs within hours and is followed by changes in physiology, colouration and morphology, resulting in the full gregarious phase syndrome. We analysed methylation-sensitive amplified fragment length polymorphisms (MS-AFLP) to compare the effect of acute and chronic crowding on DNA methylation in the central nervous system. We find that crowd-reared and solitary-reared locusts show markedly different neural MS-AFLP fingerprints. However, crowding for a day resulted in neural MS-AFLP fingerprints that were clearly distinct from both crowd-reared and uncrowded solitary-reared locusts. Our results indicate that changes in DNA methylation associated with behavioural gregarisation proceed through intermediate states that are not simply partial realisations of the endpoint states.
Supported by research grants F/09 364/K from the Leverhulme Trust, UK (to S.R.O.), BB/L02389X/1 from the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council, UK (to S.R.O.) and NE/N010019/1 from the Natural Environment Research Council, UK (to E.B.M.).
CitationScientific Reports, 2016, 6:35608
Author affiliation/Organisation/COLLEGE OF MEDICINE, BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES AND PSYCHOLOGY/MBSP Non-Medical Departments/Neuroscience, Psychology and Behaviour
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