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Open Biol. 2017 Aug;7(8). pii: 170136. doi: 10.1098/rsob.170136.

An ancient FMRFamide-related peptide-receptor pair induces defence behaviour in a brachiopod larva.

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Sars International Centre for Marine Molecular Biology, University of Bergen, Thormøhlensgate 55, 5006 Bergen, Norway.
Max Planck Institute for Developmental Biology, Spemannstraße 35, 72076 Tübingen, Germany.
Sars International Centre for Marine Molecular Biology, University of Bergen, Thormøhlensgate 55, 5006 Bergen, Norway


Animal behaviour often comprises spatially separated sub-reactions and even ciliated larvae are able to coordinate sub-reactions of complex behaviours (metamorphosis, feeding). How these sub-reactions are coordinated is currently not well understood. Neuropeptides are potential candidates for triggering larval behaviour. However, although their immunoreactivity has been widely analysed, their function in trochozoan larvae has only been studied for a few cases. Here, we investigate the role of neuropeptides in the defence behaviour of brachiopod larvae. When mechanically disturbed, the planktonic larvae of Terebratalia transversa protrude their stiff chaetae and sink down slowly. We identified endogenous FLRFamide-type neuropeptides (AFLRFamide and DFLRFamide) in T. transversa larvae and show that the protrusion of the chaetae as well as the sinking reaction can both be induced by each of these peptides. This also correlates with the presence of FLRFamidergic neurons in the apical lobe and adjacent to the trunk musculature. We deorphanized the AFLRFamide/DFLRFamide receptor and detected its expression in the same tissues. Furthermore, the ability of native and modified FLRFamide-type peptides to activate this receptor was found to correspond with their ability to trigger behavioural responses. Our results show how FLRFamide-type neuropeptides can induce two coherent sub-reactions in a larva with a simple nervous system.


FMRFamide; Trochozoa; brachiopod; defence behaviour; neuropeptide receptor; planktonic larva

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