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Plainfin midshipman -- Phenotype, Plainfin midshipman -- Genomics, Plainfin midshipman -- Auditory pathways


Acoustic communication is essential for the reproductive success of the plainfin midshipman fish (Porichthys notatus). During the breeding season, type I males use acoustic cues to advertise nest location to potential mates, creating an audible signal that attracts reproductive females. Type II (sneaker) males also likely use this social acoustic signal to find breeding pairs from which to steal fertilizations. Estrogen-induced changes in the auditory system of breeding females are thought to enhance neural encoding of the advertisement call, and recent anatomical data suggest the saccule (the main auditory end organ) as one possible target for this seasonal modulation. Here we describe saccular transcriptomes from all three sexual phenotypes (females, type I and II males) collected during the breeding season as a first step in understanding the mechanisms underlying sexual phenotype-specific and seasonal differences in auditory function. We used RNA-Seq on the Ion Torrent platform to create a combined transcriptome dataset containing over 79,000 assembled transcripts representing almost 9,000 unique annotated genes. These identified genes include several with known inner ear function and multiple steroid hormone receptors. Transcripts most closely matched to published genomes of nile tilapia and large yellow croaker, inconsistent with the phylogenetic relationship between these species but consistent with the importance of acoustic communication in their life-history strategies. We then compared the RNA-Seq results from the saccules of reproductive females with a separate transcriptome from the non-reproductive female phenotype and found over 700 differentially expressed transcripts, including members of the Wnt and Notch signaling pathways that mediate cell proliferation and hair cell addition in the inner ear. These data constitute a valuable resource for furthering our understanding of the molecular basis for peripheral auditory function as well as a range of future midshipman and cross-species comparative studies of the auditory periphery.


Copyright: © 2015 Faber-Hammond et al. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.



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