Dr. Meng-Ching Ko

Dr. Meng-Ching Ko

Postdoctoral Researcher
IMPRS Alumni
MPI for Ornithology Seewiesen
Research Group Baldwin

Main Focus

Mechanisms of testosterone-induced singing behavior in adult female canary brain
Brain neuroplasticity is a phenotype unique to songbirds that provides an excellent opportunity to study hormone modulation of the brain, and the stimulation of behavior. In the domestic canary, a sex dimorphic species, only male birds sing in nature. However, singing behavior can be induced in adult female canaries 3-5 days after subcutaneous testosterone implantation. To date, the key genes that mediate singing induced by testosterone remain unknown, and the genetic pathways underlying this process remain to be elucidated.
Our study aims to identify these genes and to describe their interplay in adult female canaries. To this end, two groups of adult female canaries were implanted with 100% testosterone for 8 hours and 3 days respectively and a third group of animals were implanted with 25% testosterone (mixed with cholesterol) for 8 hours. Untreated females were used as controls. We extracted total RNA from the HVC (an essential center of avian song control system) and from the entopallium (as a control brain nucleus). We then performed exon-level microarray transcriptome analysis to identify the testosterone-regulated transcripts. Finally we conducted functional pathway analysis and regulatory factor analysis of the promoter sequences of these testosterone regulated genes.
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