Galanin expression varies with parental care and social status in a wild cooperatively breeding fish Journal Articles uri icon

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  • As many busy parents will attest, caring for young often comes at the expense of having time to feed and care for oneself. Galanin is a neuropeptide that regulates food intake and modulates parental care; however, the relative importance of galanin in the regulation of feeding versus caring by parents has never been evaluated before under naturalistic settings. Here, we assessed how expression of the galanin system varied in two brain regions, the hypothalamus (which regulates feeding) and the preoptic area (which modulates social behaviours including care) in a wild cichlid fish, Neolamprologus pulcher. Females with young had higher hypothalamic expression of galanin receptor 1a, and the highest expression of galanin and galanin receptor 1a was observed in females that foraged the least. However, expression of five other feeding-related neuropeptides did not change while females were caring for young suggesting that changes in the hypothalamic galanin system may not have been directly related to changes in food intake. The preoptic galanin system was unaffected by the presence of young, but preoptic galanin expression was higher in dominant females (which are aggressive, regularly reproduce and care for young) compared to subordinate females (which are submissive, rarely reproduce but often help care for young). Additionally, preoptic galanin expression was higher in fish that performed more territory defense. Overall, our results indicate that galanin has brain-region-specific roles in modulating both parental care and social status in wild animals.


  • Culbert, Brett M
  • Ligocki, Isaac Y
  • Salena, Matthew G
  • Wong, Marian YL
  • Hamilton, Ian M
  • Bernier, Nicholas J
  • Balshine, Sigal

publication date

  • November 2022