Extended epigenotype in a Rattus novergicus : toxoplasma gondii association
Date of Issue2015
School of Biological Sciences
Several studies demonstrate that rats (Rattus novergicus) infected with protozoan parasite Toxoplasma gondii exhibit lesser fear to cat odors. This is thought to increase transmission of the parasite to its definitive hosts, i.e. cats. This is an example of extended phenotype where a gene of an organism allegedly creates a phenotype in another organism. We examined a possible proximate mechanism for this phenotype, describing an epigenetic change in arginine vasopressin gene in medial amygdala of male rats. Exogenously mimicking medial amygdala DNA hypomethylation resulted in reduction of fear to cat odors in uninfected animals, thus suggesting sufficiency. Systemic blockade of infection-induced DNA hypomethylation countermanded infection-induced behavioral change, thus suggesting necessity. This leads us to propose an epigenetic basis for this extended phenotype.
Communicative & integrative biology
© 2015 The Author(s). Published with license by Taylor & Francis Group, LLCNone. This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/4.0/), which permits unrestricted non-commercial use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. Permission is granted subject to the terms of the License under which the work was published. Please check the License conditions for the work which you wish to reuse. Full and appropriate attribution must be given. This permission does not cover any third party copyrighted material which may appear in the work requested.