S12-5 Thu Jan 7 11:15 – 11:30 Gene expression in the social behavior network of the wire-tailed manakin (Pipra filicauda) brain Horton, BM*; Ryder, TB; Moore, IT; Balakrishnan, CN; Millersville University; Bird Conservancy of the Rockies; Virginia Tech; East Carolina University firstname.lastname@example.org
The vertebrate basal forebrain and midbrain contain a set of interconnected nuclei that control social behavior. These brain regions, which are conserved across the vertebrate taxa, are collectively referred to as the vertebrate social behavior network (SBN). While it is known that nuclei (nodes) of the SBN are rich in steroid and neuropeptide activity linked to behavior, simultaneous variation in the expression of neuroendocrine genes aross several SBN nuclei has not yet been described in detail. In this study, we used RNA-seq to profile gene expression across seven brain regions representing five nodes of the SBN in male wire-tailed manakins (Pipra filicauda) from the Ecuadorean Amazon. Using weighted gene co-expression network analysis, we reconstructed sets of coregulated genes, showing striking patterns of variation in neuroendocrine gene expression across the SBN. We describe regional variation in gene networks comprising a broad set of hormone receptors, neuropeptides, steroidogenic enzymes, catecholamines, and other neuroendocrine signaling molecules. Our findings show heterogeneous patterns of brain gene expression across nodes of the avian SBN, highlighting the importance of region-specific sampling in studies of the neurogenetic mechanisms underlying behavior, and providing a foundation for future analyses of how the regulation of gene networks may mediate vertebrate social behavior.