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Physiol Behav. 1991 Jan;49(1):27-31.

Effects of photoperiod and 6-methoxy-2-benzoxazolinone on male-induced estrus in prairie voles.

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Department of Psychology, Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, MD 21218.


Prairie voles (Microtus ochrogaster) are characterized as facultative breeders with higher rates of reproductive activities observed during spring and summer than autumn and winter. The environmental factors regulating seasonal breeding in this species remain unspecified. Short day lengths inhibit reproductive organ development in male prairie voles in the laboratory, but these males remain fertile and capable of siring offspring; female prairie voles have been reported to be reproductively unresponsive to day length in the laboratory. The organization of estrus in this species is unusual in that females never display the cyclic changes associated with estrus; rather, female prairie voles require chemosensory stimuli associated with fertile males in order to be induced into estrus. The plant compound, 6-methoxy-2-benzoxazolinone (6-MBOA), is present in vegetatively growing grasses and sedges and acts to trigger reproduction in other rodent species exposed to short days. It was suspected that 6-MBOA present in the laboratory diet may have overridden the effects of photoperiod on female prairie voles in previous laboratory studies. In the present study, the effects of 6-MBOA and photoperiod on estrus induction were examined. Beginning at Week 0, female prairie voles were housed in long (LD 16:8) or short (LD 8:16) photoperiods for 9 weeks, then implanted subcutaneously either with an empty Silastic capsule or one packed with 6-MBOA. A special diet, devoid of 6-MBOA, was available ad lib from Week 5 to the end of the study.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 250 WORDS).

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