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J Neurobiol. 2000 May;43(2):107-20.

The fight and flight responses of crickets depleted of biogenic amines.

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Institut für Zoologie, Universität Leipzig, Talstrasse 33, D-04103 Leipzig, Germany.


Aggressive and escape behaviors were analysed in crickets (Orthoptera) treated with either reserpine, a nonspecific depleter of biogenic amines, or the synthesis inhibitors alpha-methyltryptophan (AMTP) and alpha-methyl-p-tyrosine (AMT) to specifically deplete serotonin, respectively dopamine and octopamine. Standard immunocytochemical techniques were used to verify depletion from central nervous tissue, and determine the effective dosages. Reserpinized crickets became exceedingly lethargic and had severely depressed escape responses. However, they were still able to express all the major elements of the escalating sequences of stereotype motor performances that typifies normal aggressive behavior in the cricket. AMT and AMTP treatment had opposing influences on escape behavior, being enhanced by serotonin depletion, but depressed by dopamine/octopamine depletion. AMTP-induced serotonin depletion had no influence on aggressive or submissive behaviors. AMT-treated crickets could normally only be brought to fight by coaxing. Though capable of expressing aggressive behavior per se, agonistic encounters between AMT-treated crickets were shorter, and rarely involved actual physical interactions. Hence, although amines seem to have similar actions on escape behavior in insects and crustaceans, the aminergic control of aggression seems to be fundamentally different in these arthropods groups. We conclude that amines are not in principle required for the initiation and operation of the motor circuits underlying aggression in the cricket. However, octopamine and/or dopamine seem necessary for establishing a level of excitability sufficient for aggressive behavior to become overt in response to appropriate natural releasing stimuli.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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