Predator-induced defences in Daphnia longicephala: location of kairomone receptors and timeline of sensitive phases to trait formation

L. C. Weiss, J. Leimann, R. Tollrian

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31 Citations (Scopus)
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The freshwater crustacean Daphnia adapts to changing predation risks by forming inducible defences. These are only formed when they are advantageous, saving associated costs when the defence is superfluous. However, in order to be effective, the time lag between the onset of predation and the defence formation has to be short. Daphnia longicephala develop huge protective crests upon exposure to chemical cues (kairomones) from its predator the heteropteran backswimmer Notonecta glauca. To analyse time lags, we determined kairomone-sensitive stages and the developmental time frames of inducible defences. Moreover, we looked at additive effects that could result from the summation of prolonged kairomone exposure. Kairomones are perceived by chemoreceptors and integrated by the nervous system, which alters the developmental program leading to defence formation. The underlying neuronal and developmental pathways are not thoroughly described and surprisingly, the location of the kairomone receptors is undetermined. We show that D. longicephala start to sense predator cues at the onset of the second juvenile instar, defences develop with a time lag of one instar and prolonged kairomone exposure does not impact the magnitude of the defence. By establishing a method to reversibly impair chemosensors, we show the first antennae as the location of kairomone-detecting chemoreceptors. This study provides fundamental information on kairomone perception, kairomone-sensitive stages, developmental time frames and lag times of inducible defences in D. longicephala that will greatly contribute to the further understanding of the neuronal and developmental mechanisms of predator-induced defences in Daphnia.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2918-2926
JournalJournal of Experimental Biology
Issue number18
Publication statusPublished - 1 Sept 2015
Externally publishedYes


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