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Dr. Stephen J. Salek

Research Interests

   I am interested in the interaction between reproductive hormones and behavior.  Reproductive behavior is coordinated and influenced by a variety of inputs including environmental, hormonal, developmental and genetic components.  In fish we understand a good deal about how environmental and hormonal factors influence reproductive behavior.  Classic ablation and replacement experiments have revealed the roles of various hormonal and nervous components in coordinating reproductive behavior.  Very few studies have investigated the interplay between genetic abnormalities in the development of nervous and endocrine tissues and later reproductive behavior.  Our knowledge of zebrafish genetics, their short development cycle, ease of breeding, and hardiness in the laboratory make them a great model for learning about nervous and endocrine influences on courtship and spawning behavior

        In my laboratory we are completely characterizing the courtship and spawning behavior of zebrafish in large and small groups with different male and female combinations, different environmental conditions (substrate, tank shape, light , temperature).  A complete ethogram for both male and female reproductive will allow for the screening of reproductive mutants sent by many different laboratories.  It will eventually result in a greater understanding the effects of basic endocrine and nervous substrates on reproductive behavior.  This system will also produce a model system for assessment of reproductive difficulties in species of commercial fish.  In North Carolina alone we produce five different species of commercial fish that generate and large annual revenue.  Yet the existing methods of propagation are primitive and difficulties in reproduction are not assessed at the genetic level.  Identifying the influences of hormonal and nervous mutations on subsequent reproductive success will deliver an assessment tool that will pave the way to do genetic troubleshooting of problems with broodstock reproduction.

Striped Bass Spawning Video 1

Striped Bass Spawning Video 2

Graduate Students
Shannon Sullivan

Shannon is studying the effects of pesticides on acetylcholinesterase and carboxylesterase levels in brain tissue of zebrafish.  She is also studying the its effects on courtship behavior, and fecundity.



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