The effects of domestication on cerebellar morphology and brain composition: comparing wild rats (Rattus norvegicus) to laboratory rats

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Williams, Lauren A.
University of Lethbridge. Faculty of Arts and Science
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Lethbridge, Alta. : Universtiy of Lethbridge, Department of Neuroscience
The laboratory rat, the domestic version of the wild Norway rat (Rattus norvegicus), is an important model organism in scientific research. Like other domestic mammals, laboratory rats have smaller brains than their wild relatives. Little is known, however, about the effects of domestication on cerebellar morphology or the underlying changes in cellular composition responsible for such intraspecific variation in brain morphology. Here, we compared cerebellar morphology and brain composition in wild rats and two domestic laboratory strains: Long-Evans and Sprague-Dawley. In the cerebellum, we found that all strains had similar Purkinje cell numbers, but wild rats had a higher degree of foliation and larger Purkinje somas than Long-Evans rats. Next, we used isotropic fractionation to test for differences in brain composition across strains. We found that brain composition differs between laboratory and wild rats, but that the effects of domestication vary across strains and brain regions.
Neuroscience , Domestication , Purkinje cells , Neurons , Isotropic Fractionation , Rattus norvegicus , Rats as laboratory animals , Rattus norvegicus -- Hybridization -- Research , Domestication -- Research , Brain -- Size -- Research , Cerebellum -- Size -- Research , Rats -- Nervous system -- Research , Cerebral cortex -- Size -- Research