Predator detection induces both behavioral and physiological responses in prey organisms. Our model organism, the pond snail Lymnaea stagnalis, shows multiple defensive behaviors in response to predator cues. In this study, we investigated and compared the transcriptional effects induced by the exposure to a predator scent (i.e., crayfish effluent - CE) in a strain of lab-inbred snails (i.e., W snails), which have been raised and maintained under standardized laboratory conditions for generations and a strain of freshly collected snails (i.e., Margo snails), which live in a crayfish-free pond. Neither the W- strain nor the Margo Lake snails used in this study have actually experienced crayfish. However, the W strain innately recognizes crayfish as a threat. We found that, following the exposure to CE, both strains showed significantly higher mRNA levels of serotonin-related genes. This is important, as the serotonergic system modulates predator detection and vigilance behaviors in pond snails. However, the expression levels of CREB1 and HSP70 were only upregulated in CE-exposed W snails but not in Margo ones. As CREB1 plays a key role in learning and memory formation, whereas HSP70 is involved in stress response, we investigated whether these differences in CREB1 and HSP70 mRNA levels would reflect differences in predator-induced learning (e.g., configural learning). We found that only W snails formed configural learning memory, whereas Margo snails did not. Thus, while both the strains molecularly respond to the CE by upregulating the serotoninergic system, only W snails behaviorally recognize CE as a threat and, therefore, form configural learning.
Prey populations with different predation histories show differences in behavioral and transcriptional effects under acute predation threat / Rivi, V.; Batabyal, A.; Benatti, C.; Tascedda, F.; Blom, J. M. C.; Lukowiak, K.. - In: NEUROBIOLOGY OF LEARNING AND MEMORY. - ISSN 1074-7427. - 203:(2023), pp. 1-10. [10.1016/j.nlm.2023.107775]