Shalini Kumar Palathinkal
Did you know that among animals, especially rodents like mice and rats, the females decide when they are ready for some action? You know what I mean … wink, wink. That’s right, the female rodents decide when, and with which male, they want to mate to produce offspring. And this decision is made with the help of a particular type of neuron in the brain that is essential for maintaining fertility, called kisspeptin.
Thus, unlike in humans, the need for mating is prompted in most mammals only around the time of ovulation. This ensures the highest chance of fertilisation. Particularly in rodents, the female controls the initiation and timing of copulatory contacts with the male, triggering the mate preference and sexual motivation circuit in their brains. However, what controls the neural circuitry to drive the female rodents to be suddenly sexually receptive to the males, in comparison to when they are not, remains elusive. An international team of researchers led by Dr Julie Bakker from GIGA Neurosciences, University of Liege, Belgium in 2018 may have some answers to this intriguing question.