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© 2017. Published by The Company of Biologists Ltd | Journal of Experimental Biology. Olfaction mediates many crucial life-history behaviors such as prey detection, predator avoidance, migration and reproduction. Olfactory function can also be modulated by an animal's internal physiological and metabolic states. While this is relatively well studied in mammals, little is known about how internal state impacts olfaction in fishes, the largest and most diverse group of vertebrates. Here we apply electroolfactograms (EOGs) in the African cichlid fish Astatotilapia burtoni to test the hypothesis that olfactory responses to food-related cues (i.e. L-amino acids; alanine and arginine) vary with metabolic, social and reproductive state. Dominant males (reproductively active, reduced feeding) had greater EOG magnitudes in response to amino acids at the same tested concentration than subordinate males (reproductively suppressed, greater feeding and growth rates). Mouth brooding females, which are in a period of starvation while they brood fry in theirmouths, had greater EOGmagnitudes in response to amino acids at the same tested concentration than both recovering and gravid females that are feeding. Discriminant function analysis on EOG magnitudes also grouped the male (subordinate) and female (recovering, gravid) phenotypes with higher food intake together and distinguished them from brooding females and dominant males. The slope of the initial negative phase of the EOG also showed intra-sexual differences in both sexes.Our results demonstrate that the relationship between olfaction and metabolic state observed in other taxa is conserved to fishes. For the first time, we provide evidence for intrasexual plasticity in the olfactory response to amino acids that is influenced by fish reproductive, social and metabolic state.

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Journal of Experimental Biology

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