A Conserved Role for Serotonergic Neurotransmission in Mediating Social Behavior in Octopus

Human and octopus lineages are separated by over 500 million years of evolution [1
, 2
] and show divergent anatomical patterns of brain organization [3
, 4
]. Despite these differences, growing evidence suggests that ancient neurotransmitter systems are shared across vertebrate and invertebrate species and in many cases enable overlapping functions [5
]. Sociality is widespread across the animal kingdom, with numerous examples in both invertebrate (e.g., bees, ants, termites, and shrimps) and vertebrate (e.g., fishes, birds, rodents, and primates) lineages [6
]. Serotonin is an evolutionarily ancient molecule [7
] that has been implicated in regulating both invertebrate [8
] and vertebrate [9
] social behaviors, raising the possibility that this neurotransmitter’s prosocial functions may be conserved across evolution. Members of the order Octopoda are predominantly asocial and solitary [10
]. Although at this time it is unknown whether serotonergic signaling systems are functionally conserved in octopuses, ethological studies indicate that agonistic behaviors are suspended during mating [11
, 12
, 13
], suggesting that neural mechanisms subserving social behaviors exist in octopuses but are suppressed outside the reproductive period. Here we provide evidence that, as in humans, the phenethylamine (+/−)-3,4-methylendioxymethamphetamine (MDMA) enhances acute prosocial behaviors in Octopus bimaculoides. This finding is paralleled by the evolutionary conservation of the serotonin transporter (SERT, encoded by the Slc6A4 gene) binding site of MDMA in the O. bimaculoides genome. Taken together, these data provide evidence that the neural mechanisms subserving social behaviors exist in O. bimaculoides and indicate that the role of serotonergic neurotransmission in regulating social behaviors is evolutionarily conserved.

Author : Eric Edsinger, Gül Dölen
Source : Current Biology: Report| Volume 28, ISSUE 19, P3136-3142.e4, October 08, 2018
Year Published : 2018
Date posted : October 11, 2018
Categories
Biology
Behavioral Psychology Evolutionary Biology Marine Biology Neurology Zoology
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