After a loss against an opponent, the aggressiveness of a male cricket is significantly reduced for up to 30 minutes. This depression of aggressiveness is an important factor in the establishment and maintenance of dominance between individuals. In the present study, we investigated the functional roles of nitric oxide (NO) signaling in the depression of aggressiveness in subordinate male crickets. Pairs of male crickets, pre-injected with various NO-related reagents, were allowed to establish dominant/subordinate relationships in dyadic encounters. Opponents were separated for 15 minutes and then paired again. In second encounters, subordinate crickets pre-injected with PTIO (NO scavenger) showed agonistic behavior towards former dominant opponents. A similar effect was observed in crickets pre-injected with L-NAME (NO synthase inhibitor) or ODQ (soluble guanylate cyclase inhibitor). The effects of the latter two drugs were canceled by co-injection of NOR3 (NO donor) with L-NAME or by co-injection of 8-Br-cGMP (cGMP-analog) with ODQ. Injection of NOR3 alone prolonged the inhibition of agonistic behavior in subordinate crickets from 30 minutes to 3 hours. Our results suggest that the change in agonistic behavior observed in subordinate male crickets is closely linked to NO-mediated cGMP signaling.
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