- University of Western Ontario
- University of Oklahoma
- University of New Hampshire
- Grand Valley State University
Bluegill sunfish (Lepomis macrochirus) are one of the classic systems for studying male alternative reproductive tactics (ARTs) in teleost fishes. In this species, there are two distinct life histories: parental and cuckolder, encompassing three reproductive tactics, parental, satellite, and sneaker. The parental life history is fixed, whereas individuals who enter the cuckolder life history transition from sneaker to satellite tactic as they grow. For this study, we used RNAseq to characterize the brain transcriptome of the three male tactics and females during spawning to identify gene ontology (GO) categories and potential candidate genes associated with each tactic. We found that sneaker males had higher levels of gene expression differentiation compared to the other two male tactics. Sneaker males also had higher expression in ionotropic glutamate receptor genes, specifically AMPA receptors, compared to other males, which may be important for increased spatial working memory while attempting to cuckold parental males at their nests. Larger differences in gene expression also occurred among male tactics than between males and females. We found significant expression differences in several candidate genes that were previously identified in other species with ARTs and suggest a previously undescribed role for cAMP-responsive element modulator (crem) in influencing parental male behaviors during spawning.