Sex differences and the neuroendocrine regulation of seasonal reproduction by supplementary environmental cues

Tolla, E. and Stevenson, T. J. (2020) Sex differences and the neuroendocrine regulation of seasonal reproduction by supplementary environmental cues. Integrative and Comparative Biology, 60(6), pp. 1506-1516. (doi: 10.1093/icb/icaa096) (PMID:32869105)

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Seasonal rhythms in reproduction are conserved across nature and optimize the timing of breeding to environmental conditions favorable for offspring and parent survival. The primary predictive cue for timing seasonal breeding is photoperiod. Supplementary cues, such as food availability, social signals, and temperature, fine-tune the timing of reproduction. Male and female animals show differences in the sensory detection, neural integration, and physiological responses to the same supplementary cue. The neuroendocrine regulation of sex-specific integration of predictive and supplementary cues is not well characterized. Recent findings indicate that epigenetic modifications underlie the organization of sex differences in the brain. It has also become apparent that deoxyribonucleic acid methylation and chromatin modifications play an important role in the regulation and timing of seasonal rhythms. This article will highlight evidence for sex-specific responses to supplementary cues using data collected from birds and mammals. We will then emphasize that supplementary cues are integrated in a sex-dependent manner due to the neuroendocrine differences established and maintained by the organizational and activational effects of reproductive sex hormones. We will then discuss how epigenetic processes involved in reproduction provide a novel link between early-life organizational effects in the brain and sex differences in the response to supplementary cues.

Item Type:Articles
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Stevenson, Dr Tyler and Tolla, Ms Elisabetta
Authors: Tolla, E., and Stevenson, T. J.
College/School:College of Medical Veterinary and Life Sciences > School of Biodiversity, One Health & Veterinary Medicine
Journal Name:Integrative and Comparative Biology
Publisher:Oxford University Press
ISSN (Online):1557-7023
Published Online:06 July 2020

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Project CodeAward NoProject NamePrincipal InvestigatorFunder's NameFunder RefLead Dept
307338Identification of the photoreceptor for light detection in the avian brainTyler StevensonLeverhulme Trust (LEVERHUL)RPG-2016-392Institute of Biodiversity, Animal Health and Comparative Medicine