Regulatory, Integrative and Comparative Physiology

Odor-specific effects on reentrainment following phase advances in the diurnal rodent, Octodon degus

Tammy J. Jechura, Megan M. Mahoney, Cheryl D. Stimpson, Theresa M. Lee


Reentrainment following phase shifts of the light-dark (LD) cycle is accelerated in Octodon degus in the presence of olfactory social cues (i.e., odors) produced by conspecifics. However, not all odors from conspecifics were effective in facilitating reentrainment after a phase advance. In the current experiments, we examined whether nonanimal odors, odors from another species, or conspecific odors, including those manipulated by steroid hormones, can cause the same increased reentrainment of wheel-running activity as odors from an intact, adult female degu. A variety of odors, each selected to probe a particular aspect of the reentrainment acceleration phenomenon, were presented to a group of phase-shifting female degus. The shifting females (test animals) responded to odors of intact, female degu donors with decreased reentrainment time, but odors of ovariectomized (OVX), OVX with a single hormone replacement capsule (estradiol or progesterone) or phase-shifting females had no effect. Multiple males were effective odor donors, whereas a single male was ineffective in earlier studies. Rats and cloves were not effective in accelerating reentrainment. Furthermore, odors from rats delayed reentrainment. We conclude that the odors that effectively accelerate degu reentrainment after a phase advance of the LD cycle are species specific. We also report that repeated phase shifts, followed by complete recovery of phase relationships, do not alter the rate of recovery from a phase shift over time. These data suggest that in O. degus, a social species, odors may reinforce and strengthen the salience of the photic zeitgeber and/or facilitate synchronization of rhythms between animals.

  • circadian rhythm
  • degu
  • phase-shift
  • entrainment
  • nonphotic signals
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