Native Thai chicken, an equatorial species breeds throughout the year, whereas turkeys are seasonal temperate zone breeder whose reproductive cycle is terminated by the onset of photorefractoriness. This study investigated VIPergic activity throughout a reproductive cycle in both species, hypothesizing that the differential expression of vasoactive intestinal peptide (VIP) would provide an insight into the differing reproductive strategies of the two species. Distribution of VIP neurons in the native Thai chicken and a comparison of VIPergic activity in the nucleus inferioris hypothalami (IH) and nucleus infundibuli hypothalami (IN) were investigated. VIP immunoreactivity was found throughout the native Thai chicken brain, predominantly located within the IH-IN. The pattern of VIP distribution in the native Thai chicken supports the findings reported in temperate zone species. Unlike the turkey, where there is a dissociation between VIPergic activity and prolactin levels during photorefractoriness, in the native Thai chicken, which do not express photorefractoriness, changes in VIP immunoreactive (VIP-ir) neurons within the IH-IN were directly correlated with prolactin throughout the reproductive cycle. VIPergic activity reached its lowest level after hatching of the chicks in the native Thai chicken, while in the turkey VIPergic activity was lowest only after exposure to a short day photoperiod and the acquisition of photosensitivity. This suggests that VIP neurons in the IH-IN may play a pivotal role in regulating the reproductive cycle and its differential expression following hatching of the young may, in part, account for the difference in reproductive mode between equatorial, continually breeding, non-photoperiodic birds and seasonally breeding, photoperiodic birds.
- Equatorial birds
- Native Thai chicken
- Vasoactive intestinal peptide