The otx2 gene encodes a transcription factor (OTX2) essential in the formation of the brain and sensory systems. Specifically, OTX2-positive cells are associated with axons in the olfactory system of mice and otx2 is upregulated in odour-exposed zebrafish, indicating a possible role in olfactory imprinting. In this study, otx2 was used as a candidate gene to investigate the molecular mechanisms of olfactory imprinting to settlement cues in the coral reef anemonefish, Amphiprion percula. The A. percula otx2 (Apotx2) gene was elucidated, validated, and its expression tested in settlement-stage A. percula by exposing them to behaviourally relevant olfactory settlement cues in the first 24 hours post-hatching, or daily throughout the larval phase. In-situ hybridisation revealed expression of Ap-otx2 throughout the olfactory epithelium with increased transcript staining in odour-exposed settlement-stage larval fish compared to no-odour controls, in all scenarios. This suggests that Ap-otx2 may be involved in olfactory imprinting to behaviourally relevant settlement odours in A. percula.
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- Coral reef fish
- Habitat selection
- Candidate gene
- In-situ hybridisation