Exploring Olfactory Cues: Behavioral Responses in Cichlid Juvenile to Food and Amino Acid Stimuli

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Cichlid fish have achieved a uniquely high rate of speciation, providing researchers the opportunity to better understand the sensory systems associated with speciation. Chemosensation, which includes both taste and olfaction and is used to detect food, must have evolved as cichlids evolved different lifestyles and diets. However, the specific neural mechanisms associated with chemosensory food detection in cichlids have not been discovered. In this experiment, we aimed to determine if cichlid juveniles show behavioral preference for food associated olfactory cues when presented with two types of stimuli: amino acids and food extract. We expect that both cues should be sufficient in evoking behavioral preference, as determined by time spent in odor compared to clean water, which would confirm the ability to confirm preference for food olfactory cues in cichlid juvenile. I tested a total of 28 cichlid juvenile, and their results revealed no overall significant preference when introduced to an olfactory cue. Nonetheless, we did observe 100% of fish spending over 50% of time in food extract order when administered, suggesting further research is required to determine if a possible stage in development is crucial in confidently proving this. Further research may entail an assay with a simpler food delivery system, a finer control of water flow, and histological studies in comparison of cichlid juvenile in various stages of development, as to determine significant olfactory or brain tissue differences.



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