Hopkins et al.

Hello all in today’s blog post I am going to cover a few pioneers who work on electric fish and what sort of research they are doing!

You can’t talk about electric fish research unless you talk about Dr. Carl Hopkins. Dr.Hopkins is a neuroethologist who works with electric fish. He’s currently working at Cornell university where he studies the mechanisms behind electric signals.  His work on electric fish dates to the 1970’s where he looked at the difference in signaling between sexes of electric fish (Hopkins 1972). Dr.Hopkins has given a foundational understanding behind the neurological mechanisms that we understand in electric fish today.

Some of the work that Dr. Hopkin’s does across different electric fish taxa

Carl Hopkins, Electric fish and EODsCC BY-SA 3.0

Jason Gallant is a recent pioneer in electric fish research.  Right now, Dr.Gallant is a professor at Michigan State University where he is doing transcriptomics research on the developmental origins of the electric organ (MSU 2018).  As you all know the electric organ is a vital  structure that is found in every electric fish. So, learning about the development of this structure is imperative to fully understanding the organ’s ontogeny. Dr.Gallant met Dr.Hopkins during his undergrad at a conference which probably sparked his interest in the field.

Dr. Graciela Unguez started doing research on electric fish in 2014 at the University of New Mexico.  Her research contributed to one of Dr.Gallant’s paper: Genomic basis for the convergent evolution of electric organ. Since she stepped foot into the world of electric fish Dr.Unguez has published several papers on the evolution of the electric organ using transcriptomics like Dr.Gallant.  

Ana Silva researches electrical communication at the university of the Uruguay republic.  Dr.Silva does most of her research on behavioral side of electric fish research (Silva 2018). In her latest research Dr.Silva  described vasotocin modulation in the dominance hierarchy in Gymnotus omarorum. Vasotocin is a hormone that is found in all non-mammalian species:  vasotocin is homologous to oxytocin in mammals (Hasunuma et al. 2013). Vasotocin influences pair bonding and aggression in electric fish (Silva et al. 2019).  

Martin Worm does his research on Neuroethology and Sensory Ecology in electric fish at the University of Bonn. The paper’s that Dr.Worm writes on electric fish typically deal social interaction with conspecifics.  Worm was a large contributor to the information that we know about electric fish communication just behind Dr.Hopkins (Worm et al. 2018).  

It takes a team in science to be able to get results.  As you saw throughout the blog I citied multiple sources that explains a lot of behaviors that electric fish exhibit. It would be almost impossible for one person (Unless you’re Carl Hopkins) to explain all of Tinbergen’s questions (Function, Phylogeny, Mechanism, and Ontongey) from multiple standpoints.  It will be these people who are going to be leading research for the coming years in climate research and how these species may be affected by the change.

I would like to personally thank all of you for reading the blog over the last few months.  I have had a great time researching electric fish and all their behaviors. Till next time, Ben

Electric Eel
Steven G. JohnsonElectric-eelCC BY-SA 3.0

Literature Cited:

1. Gallant J. Welcome to the MSU Electric Fish Lab! MSU Electric Fish Lab. 2018 Jun 21 [accessed 2019 May 10]. http://efish.integrativebiology.msu.edu/

2. Hasunuma I, Toyoda F, Okada R, Yamamoto K, Kadono Y, Kikuyama S. Roles of Arginine Vasotocin Receptors in the Brain and Pituitary of Submammalian Vertebrates. In: International Review of Cell and Molecular Biology. Vol. 304. Elsevier; 2013 [accessed 2019 May 10]. p. 191–225. https://linkinghub.elsevier.com/retrieve/pii/B978012407696900004X. doi:10.1016/B978-0-12-407696-9.00004-X

3. Perrone R, Pedraja F, Valiño G, Tassino B, Silva A. Non-breeding territoriality and the effect of territory size on aggression in the weakly electric fish, Gymnotus omarorum. acta ethologica. 2019 Jan 23. doi:10.1007/s10211-019-00309-7

4. Science1972.pdf. [accessed 2019 May 10]. http://pages.nbb.cornell.edu/neurobio/hopkins/Reprints/Science1972.pdf

5. Silva A, Pandolfi M. Vasotocinergic control of agonistic behavior told by Neotropical fishes. General and Comparative Endocrinology. 2018;273. doi:10.1016/j.ygcen.2018.04.025

6. Worm M, Landgraf T, Prume J, Nguyen H, Kirschbaum F, von der Emde G. Evidence for mutual allocation of social attention through interactive signaling in a mormyrid weakly electric fish. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. 2018;115(26):6852–6857. doi:10.1073/pnas.1801283115

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