Variation in levels of luteinizing hormone and reproductive photoresponsiveness in a population of white-footed mice (Peromyscus leucopus)
Heideman PD, Pittman JT, Schubert KA, Dubois CM, Bowles J, Lowe SM, Price MR. Variation in levels of luteinizing hormone and reproductive photoresponsiveness in a population of white-footed mice (Peromyscus leucopus). Am J Physiol Regul Integr Comp Physiol 298: R1543-R1548, 2010. First published March 31, 2010; doi:10.1152/ajpregu.00686.2009.-Natural genetic variation in reproduction and life history strategies is a manifestation of variation in underlying regulatory neuronal and endocrine systems. A test of the hypothesis that genetic variation in luteinizing hormone (LH) level could be related to a life history trait, seasonal reproduction, was conducted on artificial selection lines from a wild-source population of white-footed mice (Peromyscus leucopus). Variation exists in the degree of suppression of reproduction by winter short-day photoperiods (SD) in wild-source individuals and in the laboratory population. In this population, most individuals from a photoperiod-responsive (R) artificial selection line are strongly suppressed reproductively in SD, while most individuals from a photoperiod-nonresponsive (NR) artificial selection line are only weakly reproductively suppressed in SD. We assayed levels of LH to test for genetic variation between lines that could contribute to variation in reproductive status in SD. Females from both lines were raised in long-day photoperiods (LD) or SD, ovariectomized under isoflurane anesthesia, and given estradiol implants. Levels of LH were significantly higher in the NR line than in the R line, indicating genetic variation for levels of LH. Levels of LH were higher in LD than in SD, indicating that levels of LH were sensitive to photoperiod treatment even with a controlled level of estradiol negative feedback. The results indicate that there is genetic variation in levels of LH that could be functionally important both in the laboratory in SD and in the wild population in winter. Thus genetic variation in levels of LH is a plausible causal factor determining winter reproductive phenotype in the wild population.