Dominance behaviour in a non-aggressive flatfish, Senegalese sole (Solea senegalensis) and brain mRNA abundance of selected transcripts


Fatsini E, Rey S, Ibarra-Zatarain Z, MacKenzie S & Duncan N (2017) Dominance behaviour in a non-aggressive flatfish, Senegalese sole (Solea senegalensis) and brain mRNA abundance of selected transcripts. PLoS ONE, 12 (9), Art. No.: e0184283.

Dominance is defined as the preferential access to limited resources. The present study aimed to characterise dominance in a non-aggressive flatfish species, the Senegalese sole (Solea senegalensis) by 1) identifying dominance categories and associated behaviours and 2) linking dominance categories (dominant and subordinate) with the abundance of selected mRNA transcripts in the brain. Early juveniles (n= 74, 37 pairs) were subjected to a dyadic dominance test, related to feeding, and once behavioural phenotypes had been described the abundance of ten selected mRNAs related to dominance and aggressiveness was measured in the brain. Late juveniles were subjected to two dyadic dominance tests (n= 34, 17 pairs), related to feeding and territoriality and one group test (n= 24, 4 groups of 6 fish). Sole feeding first were categorized as dominant and sole feeding second or not feeding as subordinate. Three social behaviours (i. “Resting the head” on another fish, ii. “Approaching” another fish, iii. “Swimming above another” fish) were associated with dominance of feeding. Two other variables (i. Total time occupying the preferred area during the last 2 hours of the 24 h test, ii. Organisms occupying the preferred area when the test ended) were representative of dominance in the place preference test. In all tests, dominant fish compared to subordinate fish displayed a significantly higher number of the behaviours “Rest the head” and “Approaches”. Moreover, dominant sole dominated the sand at the end of the test, and in the group test dominated the area close to the feed delivery point before feed was delivered. The mRNA abundance of the selected mRNAs related to neurogenesis (nrd2) and neuroplasticity (c-fos) in dominant sole compared to subordinate were significantly different. This is the first study to characterise dominance categories with associated behaviours and mRNA abundance in Senegalese sole and provides tools to study dominance related problems in feeding and reproduction in aquaculture.

PLoS ONE: Volume 12, Issue 9

Publication date06/09/2017
Publication date online06/09/2017
Date accepted by journal21/08/2017
PublisherPublic Library of Science