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Boldness predicts social status in zebrafish (Danio rerio)
Uppsala University, Disciplinary Domain of Medicine and Pharmacy, Faculty of Medicine, Department of Neuroscience, Physiology.
Uppsala University, Disciplinary Domain of Medicine and Pharmacy, Faculty of Medicine, Department of Neuroscience, Pharmacology.
Uppsala University, Disciplinary Domain of Science and Technology, Biology, Department of Organismal Biology, Environmental Toxicology.
Uppsala University, Disciplinary Domain of Science and Technology, Biology, Department of Ecology and Genetics, Animal Ecology.
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2011 (English)In: PLoS ONE, ISSN 1932-6203, Vol. 6, no 8, e23565Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

This study explored if boldness could be used to predict social status. First, boldness was assessed by monitoring individual zebrafish behaviour in (1) an unfamiliar barren environment with no shelter (open field), (2) the same environment when a roof was introduced as a shelter, and (3) when the roof was removed and an unfamiliar object (Lego® brick) was introduced. Next, after a resting period of minimum one week, social status of the fish was determined in a dyadic contest and dominant/subordinate individuals were determined as the winner/loser of two consecutive contests. Multivariate data analyses showed that males were bolder than females and that the behaviours expressed by the fish during the boldness tests could be used to predict which fish would later become dominant and subordinate in the ensuing dyadic contest. We conclude that bold behaviour is positively correlated to dominance in zebrafish and that boldness is not solely a consequence of social dominance.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2011. Vol. 6, no 8, e23565
National Category
Natural Sciences
URN: urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-157531DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0023565ISI: 000294121300060OAI: diva2:436015
Available from: 2011-08-22 Created: 2011-08-22 Last updated: 2015-07-24Bibliographically approved
In thesis
1. Bully or Bullied?: The Zebrafish as a Model for Social Stress and Depression
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Bully or Bullied?: The Zebrafish as a Model for Social Stress and Depression
2013 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

The zebrafish is evaluated as a model for social stress, depression and anxiety. I conclude that it is suitable, especially for studies of sex differences. In humans, women are more prone to depression but most animal studies are performed in males. A popular way to study depression is by means of social stress, which is often a contributing factor to depression. However, social stress in female rodents is difficult to study since female aggression is mostly limited to maternal defence. Thus, there is a need for models to study depression and anxiety in females, as well as sex differences in these disorders.

As personality is a risk factor for developing depression, I aimed at exploring correlated behaviours that together characterise personalities. My work confirmed that zebrafish, as numerous other species, show strong correlations between boldness and aggression on the one hand, and neurobiological reactions to social stress on the other. In general, males were bolder than females, but there were no differences in aggressive behaviours between the sexes. It was also confirmed that both acute and chronic social stress activates the dopamine and serotonin systems in the brain, and that subordinate individuals appear to be more stressed, based on serotonergic activity.

Further, I studied the consequences of altered levels of serotonin during development, such as would be the case when antidepressants are used during pregnancy. Zebrafish embryos were treated with drugs that affect the serotonin system by increasing or decreasing serotonin levels. Depletion of serotonin increased the expression of several serotonin-related genes but had no effect on morphology. In contrast, increasing serotonin levels only showed small effects on gene expression, but increased the length of the myotomes in the spinal cord. Together with other studies, my results indicate that fluvoxamine might be a suitable choice for treatment of depression during pregnancy.

In conclusion, my results show that the zebrafish is a valid model organism for studying social stress, depression and anxiety disorders and it should therefore be considered when developing new animal models for depression. It will especially be beneficial in studies of sex differences.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Uppsala: Acta Universitatis Upsaliensis, 2013. 66 p.
Digital Comprehensive Summaries of Uppsala Dissertations from the Faculty of Medicine, ISSN 1651-6206 ; 926
National Category
Research subject
urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-205425 (URN)978-91-554-8725-6 (ISBN)
Public defence
2013-10-02, B21, Biomedicinskt Centrum, Husargatan 3, Uppsala, 09:15 (English)
Available from: 2013-09-11 Created: 2013-08-16 Last updated: 2014-01-22

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Dahlbom, JosefinLundstedt-Enkel, KatrinSundström, FredrikWinberg, Svante
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