Evidence found of worker naked mole rats who eat queen feces becoming

first_imgSubordinate naked mole-rats and queen’s pups. Credit: PNAS Journal information: Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences A team of researchers affiliated with several institutions in Japan has found evidence suggesting that female worker naked mole rats become more maternal after consuming their queen’s feces. In their paper published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, the group describes their study of the unique mammals and what they found. This document is subject to copyright. Apart from any fair dealing for the purpose of private study or research, no part may be reproduced without the written permission. The content is provided for information purposes only. © 2018 Phys.org More information: Akiyuki Watarai et al. Responses to pup vocalizations in subordinate naked mole-rats are induced by estradiol ingested through coprophagy of queen’s feces, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (2018). DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1720530115AbstractNaked mole-rats form eusocial colonies consisting of a single breeding female (the queen), several breeding males, and sexually immature adults (subordinates). Subordinates are cooperative and provide alloparental care by huddling and retrieving pups to the nest. However, the physiological mechanism(s) underlying alloparental behavior of nonbreeders remains undetermined. Here, we examined the response of subordinates to pup voice and the fecal estradiol concentrations of subordinates during the three reproductive periods of the queen, including gestation, postpartum, and nonlactating. Subordinate response to pup voice was observed only during the queen’s postpartum and was preceded by an incremental rise in subordinates’ fecal estradiol concentrations during the queen’s gestation period, which coincided with physiological changes in the queen. We hypothesized that the increased estradiol in the queen’s feces was disseminated to subordinates through coprophagy, which stimulated subordinates’ responses to pup vocalizations. To test this hypothesis, we fed subordinates either fecal pellets from pregnant queens or pellets from nonpregnant queens amended with estradiol for 9 days and examined their response to recorded pup voice. In both treatments, the subordinates exhibited a constant level of response to pup voice during the feeding period but became more responsive 4 days after the feeding period. Thus, we believe that we have identified a previously unknown system of communication in naked mole-rats, in which a hormone released by one individual controls the behavior of another individual and influences the level of responsiveness among subordinate adults to pup vocal signals, thereby contributing to the alloparental pup care by subordinates.last_img

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