Behavioral plasticity is widespread in swarming animals, however little is known about its underlying neural and molecular mechanisms. Here, we report that a neuropeptide F (NPF)/nitric oxide (NO) pathway plays a critical role in the locomotor plasticity of swarming migratory locusts. Two related neuropeptides, NPF1a and NPF2, show reduced levels of their encoding transcripts during crowding, and the transcript levels of their receptors significantly increase during locust isolation. Both of these NPFs have suppressive effects on phase-related locomotor activity. A key downstream mediator for both NPFs is nitric oxide synthase (NOS) which regulates phase-related locomotor activity by controlling NO synthesis in the locust brain. Mechanistically, NPF1a and NPF2 modify NOS activity by separately suppressing its phosphorylation and lowering its transcript level, effects that are mediated by their respective receptors. Our results uncover a hierarchical neurochemical mechanism underlying behavioral plasticity in the swarming locust and provide insights into the NPF/NO axis.
Locusta migratoria transcriptomePublicly available at the NCBI Sequence Read Archive (accession no: SRP092214).
- Xianhui Wang
- Le Kang
- Li Hou
The funders had no role in study design, data collection and interpretation, or the decision to submit the work for publication.
- K VijayRaghavan, National Centre for Biological Sciences, Tata Institute of Fundamental Research, India
© 2017, Hou et al.
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