Navigation Links
For fish, fear smells like sugar
Date:2/23/2012

When one fish gets injured, the rest of the school takes off in fear, tipped off by a mysterious substance known as "Schreckstoff" (meaning "scary stuff" in German). Now, researchers reporting online on February 23 in the Cell Press journal Current Biology have figured out what that scary stuff is really made of.

Within that chemical brew is a special type of sugar found in abundance in fish skin. When a fish is wounded, fragments of the sugar known as chondroitin sulfate alarm other fish nearby.

"Our results provide a solution to a 70-year-old puzzle: the nature of this alarm signal," says Suresh Jesuthasan of A*Star's Neuroscience Research Partnership and the Duke/National University of Singapore Graduate Medical School in Singapore.

Chondroitin sulfate is a major component of fish skin, he said, and its breakdownlikely triggered by enzymes released upon injuryseems to be the key.

The new study shows that Schreckstoff and these sugar fragments register in a particular part of the zebrafish brain. That region in the scent-processing olfactory bulb includes an enigmatic class of sensory neurons known as crypt cells.

The researchers suggest that those neurons may be specialized to detect the sugary alarm cue. "This region of the olfactory bulb has unique projections to higher centers of the brain," Jesuthasan says, "so there may be a special circuit mediating aspects of the innate fear response."

The findings identify a new class of odorants for fish. It also helps to explain how this "danger" signal might have evolved even though the signal offers no particular benefit to its sender. Those sugar fragments are naturally released upon injury, whether anyone can smell them or not. Fish able to pick up the scent and flee are more likely to survive and reproduce.

Puzzles remain, however. For instance, some fish species will sense alarm cues released from closely related species but respond less intensely to cues from more distant relatives. The trend suggests that chondroitin fragments may come in a variety of "flavors," and the researchers are now interested in testing whether the same fragments that breed fear in zebrafish will elicit responses in other species as well.

Ultimately, the discovery could lead to new insight into the nature of fear itself.

"These findings underscore the usefulness of the zebrafish as a system to investigate the neural basis of innate fear," Jesuthasan said. "Given the transparency of larval fish, it is possible to see at single-cell resolution what happens throughout the brain when the organism detects danger. This will allow us in the future to ask how neurons, as a group, regulate behavior and emotional responses."


'/>"/>

Contact: Elisabeth (Lisa) Lyons
elyons@cell.com
617-386-2121
Cell Press
Source:Eurekalert

Related biology news :

1. A small step for lungfish, a big step for the evolution of walking
2. One fish, two fish reef fish
3. One fish, two fish … reef fish
4. Magnetic attraction for fish, crabs?
5. Undesirable evolution can be reversed in fish, Stony Brook University scientists show
6. UNH researchers studying spiny dogfish, Gulf of Maines mini shark
7. Historical photographs expose decline in Floridas reef fish, new Scripps study finds
8. Ocean fish farming harms wild fish, study says
9. Carbonized coffee grounds remove foul smells
10. Smells may help birds find their homes, avoid inbreeding
11. Researchers unlock new secret to how smells are detected
Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:
(Date:6/22/2016)... WASHINGTON , June 22, 2016 On ... highly-anticipated call to industry to share solutions for the ... by U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), explains that ... nationals are departing the United States ... criminals, and to defeat imposters. Logo - ...
(Date:6/16/2016)... 16, 2016 The global ... to reach USD 1.83 billion by 2024, according ... Inc. Technological proliferation and increasing demand in commercial ... to drive the market growth.      ... The development of advanced multimodal techniques for biometric ...
(Date:6/9/2016)... Finland , June 9, 2016 ... National Police deploy Teleste,s video security solution to ensure the ... France during the major tournament ... data communications systems and services, announced today that its video ... Prefecture to back up public safety across the ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:6/23/2016)... , June 23, 2016   Boston Biomedical ... novel compounds designed to target cancer stemness pathways, ... been granted Orphan Drug Designation from the U.S. ... of gastric cancer, including gastroesophageal junction (GEJ) cancer. ... designed to inhibit cancer stemness pathways by targeting ...
(Date:6/23/2016)... ... June 23, 2016 , ... Charm ... Mold) microbial test has received AOAC Research Institute approval 061601. , “This is ... last year,” stated Bob Salter, Vice President of Regulatory and Industrial Affairs. “The ...
(Date:6/23/2016)... ... June 23, 2016 , ... Supplyframe, the ... the Supplyframe Design Lab . Located in Pasadena, Calif., the Design Lab’s ... how hardware projects are designed, built and brought to market. , The Design ...
(Date:6/23/2016)... NEWPORT BEACH, Calif. , June 23, 2016 /PRNewswire/ ... offering new biological discoveries to the medical community, has ... and co-founder Matthew Nunez . "We ... provide us with the capital we need to meet ... funding will essentially provide us the runway to complete ...
Breaking Biology Technology: