Pulse magnetization elicits differential gene expression in the central nervous system of the Caribbean spiny lobster, Panulirus argus.

Journal Article (Journal Article)

Diverse animals use Earth's magnetic field to guide their movements, but the neural and molecular mechanisms underlying the magnetic sense remain enigmatic. One hypothesis is that particles of the mineral magnetite (Fe3 O4 ) provide the basis of magnetoreception. Here we examined gene expression in the central nervous system of a magnetically sensitive invertebrate, the Caribbean spiny lobster (Panulirus argus), after applying a magnetic pulse known to alter magnetic orientation behavior. Numerous genes were differentially expressed in response to the pulse, including 647 in the brain, 1256 in the subesophageal ganglion, and 712 in the thoracic ganglia. Many such genes encode proteins linked to iron regulation, oxidative stress, and immune response, consistent with possible impacts of a magnetic pulse on magnetite-based magnetoreceptors. Additionally, however, altered expression also occurred for numerous genes with no apparent link to magnetoreception, including genes encoding proteins linked to photoreception, carbohydrate and hormone metabolism, and other physiological processes. Overall, the results are consistent with the magnetite hypothesis of magnetoreception, yet also reveal that in spiny lobsters, a strong pulse altered expression of > 10% of all expressed genes, including many seemingly unrelated to sensory processes. Thus, caution is required when interpreting the effects of magnetic pulses on animal behavior.

Full Text

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Ernst, DA; Fitak, RR; Schmidt, M; Derby, CD; Johnsen, S; Lohmann, KJ

Published Date

  • September 2020

Published In

Volume / Issue

  • 206 / 5

Start / End Page

  • 725 - 742

PubMed ID

  • 32607762

Electronic International Standard Serial Number (EISSN)

  • 1432-1351

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

  • 0340-7594

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.1007/s00359-020-01433-7


  • eng