Publications by authors named "Elias T Lunsford"

3 Publications

  • Page 1 of 1

Activity of Posterior Lateral Line Afferent Neurons during Swimming in Zebrafish.

J Vis Exp 2021 02 10(168). Epub 2021 Feb 10.

Department of Biology, University of Florida, The Whitney Laboratory for Marine Bioscience;

Sensory systems gather cues essential for directing behavior, but animals must decipher what information is biologically relevant. Locomotion generates reafferent cues that animals must disentangle from relevant sensory cues of the surrounding environment. For example, when a fish swims, flow generated from body undulations is detected by the mechanoreceptive neuromasts, comprising hair cells, that compose the lateral line system. The hair cells then transmit fluid motion information from the sensor to the brain via the sensory afferent neurons. Concurrently, corollary discharge of the motor command is relayed to hair cells to prevent sensory overload. Accounting for the inhibitory effect of predictive motor signals during locomotion is, therefore, critical when evaluating the sensitivity of the lateral line system. We have developed an in vivo electrophysiological approach to simultaneously monitor posterior lateral line afferent neuron and ventral motor root activity in zebrafish larvae (4-7 days post fertilization) that can last for several hours. Extracellular recordings of afferent neurons are achieved using the loose patch clamp technique, which can detect activity from single or multiple neurons. Ventral root recordings are performed through the skin with glass electrodes to detect motor neuron activity. Our experimental protocol provides the potential to monitor endogenous or evoked changes in sensory input across motor behaviors in an intact, behaving vertebrate.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.3791/62233DOI Listing
February 2021

Efferent modulation of spontaneous lateral line activity during and after zebrafish motor commands.

J Neurophysiol 2019 12 23;122(6):2438-2448. Epub 2019 Oct 23.

The Whitney Laboratory for Marine Bioscience, Department of Biology, University of Florida, Saint Augustine, Florida.

Accurate sensory processing during movement requires the animal to distinguish between external (exafferent) and self-generated (reafferent) stimuli to maintain sensitivity to biologically relevant cues. The lateral line system in fishes is a mechanosensory organ that experiences reafferent sensory feedback, via detection of fluid motion relative to the body generated during behaviors such as swimming. For the first time in larval zebrafish (), we employed simultaneous recordings of lateral line and motor activity to reveal the activity of afferent neurons arising from endogenous feedback from hindbrain efferent neurons during locomotion. Frequency of spontaneous spiking in posterior lateral line afferent neurons decreased during motor activity and was absent for more than half of swimming trials. Targeted photoablation of efferent neurons abolished the afferent inhibition that was correlated to swimming, indicating that inhibitory efferent neurons are necessary for modulating lateral line sensitivity during locomotion. We monitored calcium activity with fish and found synchronous activity between putative cholinergic efferent neurons and motor neurons. We examined correlates of motor activity to determine which may best predict the attenuation of afferent activity and therefore what components of the motor signal are translated through the corollary discharge. Swim duration was most strongly correlated to the change in afferent spike frequency. Attenuated spike frequency persisted past the end of the fictive swim bout, suggesting that corollary discharge also affects the glide phase of burst and glide locomotion. The duration of the glide in which spike frequency was attenuated increased with swim duration but decreased with motor frequency. Our results detail a neuromodulatory mechanism in larval zebrafish that adaptively filters self-generated flow stimuli during both the active and passive phases of locomotion. For the first time in vivo, we quantify the endogenous effect of efferent activity on afferent gain control in a vertebrate hair cell system during and after locomotion. We believe that this pervasive effect has been underestimated when afferent activity of octavolateralis systems is characterized in the current literature. We further identify a refractory period out of phase with efferent control and place this gain mechanism in the context of gliding behavior of freely moving animals.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1152/jn.00594.2019DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6966311PMC
December 2019

Saxitoxin and the Ochre Sea Star: Molecule of Keystone Significance and a Classic Keystone Species.

Integr Comp Biol 2015 Sep 8;55(3):533-42. Epub 2015 Apr 8.

Department of Chemistry, Seattle Pacific University, Seattle, WA 98119, USA.

Saxitoxins (STXs) are paralytic alkaloids produced by marine dinoflagellates in response to biotic and abiotic stressors yielding harmful algal blooms. Because STX impacts coastal, near-shore communities to a greater extent than would be predicted by its relative abundance, it has been referred to as a "molecule of keystone significance" in reference to Robert Paine's Keystone Species Concept. Pisaster ochraceus, the predator upon which Paine's concept was founded, inhabits waters regularly plagued by harmful algal blooms, but the effects of STX on Pisaster have not yet been investigated. Here, we used laboratory and field experiments to examine the potential consequences of exposure to STX on sea stars' feeding, attachment to the substrate, and success in fertilization. Pisaster exhibited similar feeding behaviors when offered non-toxic prey, STX-containing prey, or a combination of the two. Although feeding behavior is unaffected, consumption of STX poses a physiological tradeoff. Sea stars in the laboratory and field had significantly lower thresholds of the force needed to detach them from their substrates after either being exposed to, or consuming, STX. High pressure (or high performance) liquid chromatography analysis indicated an accumulation of STX (and structural analogues) in sea stars' viscera, likely due to trophic transfer from toxic prey. Incidence of fertilization tended to decrease when gametes were exposed to high, yet ecologically relevant, STX concentrations of STX. These findings suggest that the molecule of keystone significance, STX, produced during harmful algal blooms extends its impacts to rocky intertidal communities by way of the keystone predator P. ochraceus.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/icb/icv010DOI Listing
September 2015