Do arthropods feel anxious during molts?

Julien Bacqué-Cazenave, Marion Berthomieu, Daniel Cattaert, Pascal Fossat, Jean Paul Delbecque
J Exp Biol. 2018-12-10; 222(2): jeb186999
DOI: 10.1242/jeb.186999

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The molting process of arthropods, chiefly controlled by ecdysteroids, is generally considered very stressful. Our previous investigations have shown that crayfish, after having experienced stressful situations, display anxiety-like behavior (ALB), characterized by aversion to light in a dark/light plus-maze (DLPM). In the present experiments, the spontaneous exploratory behavior of isolated crayfish was analyzed in a DLPM at different stages of their molt cycle. All tested animals displayed transitory aversion to light similar to ALB, before and, mostly, after molting, but not during inter-molt. Injection of ecdysteroids
into inter-molt animals elicited ALB after a delay of 4 days, suggesting a long-term, possibly indirect, hormonal effect. Importantly, ecdysteroid-induced ALB was suppressed by the injection of an anxiolytic benzodiazepine. Thus, molts and their hormonal control impose internal stress on crayfish, leading to aversion behavior that has the main characteristics of anxiety. These observations are possibly generalizable to many other arthropods.


Auteurs Bordeaux Neurocampus