Site-specific effects of anosmia and cloacal gland anesthesia on Fos expression induced in male quail brain by sexual behavior

Mélanie Taziaux, Matthieu Keller, Gregory F. Ball, Jacques Balthazart

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

18 Scopus citations


In rats, expression of the immediate early gene, c-fos observed in the brain following male copulatory behavior relates mostly to the detection of olfactory information originating from the female and to somatosensory feedback from the penis. However, quail, like most birds, are generally considered to have a relatively poorly developed sense of smell. Furthermore, quail have no intromittent organ (e.g., penis). It is therefore intriguing that expression of male copulatory behavior induces in quail and rats a similar pattern of c-fos expression in the medial preoptic area (mPOA), bed nucleus of the stria terminalis (BSTM) and parts of the amygdala. We analyzed here by immunocytochemistry Fos expression in the mPOA/BSTM/amygdala of male quail that had been allowed to copulate with a female during standardized tests. Before these tests, some of the males had either their nostrils plugged, or their cloacal area anesthetized, or both. A control group was not exposed to females. These manipulations did not affect frequencies of male sexual behavior and all birds exposed to a female copulated normally. In the mPOA, the increased Fos expression induced by copulation was not affected by the cloacal gland anesthesia but was markedly reduced in subjects deprived of olfactory input. Both manipulations affected copulation-induced Fos expression in the BSTM. No change in Fos expression was observed in the amygdala. Thus immediate early gene expression in the mPOA and BSTM of quail is modulated at least in part by olfactory cues and/or somatosensory stimuli originating from the cloacal gland. Future work should specify the nature of these stimuli and their function in the expression of avian male sexual behavior.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)52-65
Number of pages14
JournalBehavioural Brain Research
Issue number1
StatePublished - Dec 1 2008
Externally publishedYes


  • Anesthesia
  • Bed nucleus of the stria terminalis
  • Cloacal gland
  • Copulatory behavior
  • Immediate early gene
  • Medial preoptic area
  • Olfaction

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Behavioral Neuroscience


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