Antimicrobial egg cleaning by the fringed darter (Perciformes: Percidae: Etheostoma crossopterum): Implications of a novel component of parental care in fishes

Jason H. Knouft, Lawrence M. Page, Michael J. Plewa

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

Broad-spectrum antimicrobial compounds have recently been identified in the epidermal mucus of fishes and probably serve as a first line of defence against microbial pathogens. Because of the ubiquitous nature of fungi and bacteria in aquatic systems, defence against these pathogens should be required throughout the lifespan of fishes, including the egg stage. We conducted experiments on Etheostoma crossopterum (Percidae: Catonotus), the fringed darter, to determine if the presence of a guarding male inhibits microbial colonization of eggs. Based on results from a combination of in-stream experiments, in vitro microbial assays, and morphological characteristics and behaviour of breeding males, we propose that antimicrobial egg cleaning by the guarding male is an effective component of parental care in these fish. Although innate antimicrobial compounds have been identified in a variety of organisms ranging from insects to vertebrates, integration of these compounds into a species's reproductive life history has been identified only in a small number of insect species. The results from this study not only indicate that E. crossopterum males provide a novel form of vertebrate parental care, but also have implications regarding the evolution of parental care in fishes and transitional evolutionary stages from no parental care to male parental care.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2405-2411
Number of pages7
JournalProceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences
Volume270
Issue number1531
DOIs
StatePublished - Nov 22 2003

Keywords

  • Antimicrobial compounds
  • Egg cleaning
  • Etheostoma crossopterum
  • Nest guarding
  • Parental care

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Immunology and Microbiology(all)
  • Environmental Science(all)
  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)

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