Role of melatonin in the control of depth distribution of Daphnia magna

Piotr Bentkowski, Magdalena Markowska, Joanna Pijanowska

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15 Citations (Scopus)


Previous studies confirmed the presence of melatonin in Daphnia magna and demonstrated diurnal fluctuations in its concentration. It is also known that in several invertebrate species, melatonin affects locomotor activity. We tested the hypothesis that this hormone is involved in the regulation of Daphnia diel vertical migration (DVM) behaviour that is well recognized as the adaptive response to predation threat. Using 'plankton organs', we studied the effect of three concentrations of exogenous melatonin (10-5, 10-7, 10-9 M) on DVM of both female and male D. magna in the presence or absence of chemical cue (kairomone) of planktivorous fish. Depth distribution was measured six times a day, using infrared-sensitive closed circuit television cameras. Our results showed a significant effect of melatonin on the mean depth of experimental populations, both males and females, but only when melatonin was combined with fish kairomone. Females stayed, on average, closer to the surface than males, both responding to the presence of kairomone by descending to deeper strata. In the presence of exogenous melatonin and with the threat of predation, Daphnia stayed closer to the surface and their distribution was more variable than that of individuals, which were exposed to the kairomone alone. Approaching the surface in the presence of predation threat seems to be maladaptive. We postulate the role of melatonin as a stress signal inhibitor in molecular pathways of response to predation threat in Cladocera.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)43-50
Number of pages8
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2010

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