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Melatonin secretion in a strictly subterranean mammal, the Damaraland mole-rat (Cryptomys damarensis)

Richter, T.A., Malpaux, B., Fleming, P.A., Molteno, A.J. and Bennett, N.C. (2003) Melatonin secretion in a strictly subterranean mammal, the Damaraland mole-rat (Cryptomys damarensis). Journal of Zoology, 261 (3). pp. 313-319.

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    Subterranean mammals inhabit an environment that is normally devoid of light and are therefore deprived of photoperiodic information that can be used to time important life-history events. An assessment was made of whether melatonin secretion in a strictly subterranean rodent, the Damaraland mole-rat Cryptomys damarensis, can be modified by photoperiod. In experiment 1, a clear diurnal rhythm of melatonin secretion in animals housed under a neutral photoperiod (12L:12D) was observed, with significantly higher melatonin concentrations in the dark compared to the light phase. The same diurnal melatonin rhythm was found 1 day after animals were transferred to either continuous light or continuous dark, suggesting that a circadian rhythm was maintained under acute exposure to light and dark. In experiment 2, melatonin secretion was monitored in a long (14L:10D) and short day (10L:14D) photoperiod and was found to be modified by the photoperiodic change. We therefore suggest that the Damaraland mole-rat possesses a circadian melatonin rhythm that can be physiologically modulated in response to photoperiod.

    Publication Type: Journal Article
    Publisher: Cambridge University Press
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