LH responses to single doses of exogenous GnRH in the Cape mole rat (Georychus capensis): the pituitary potential for opportunistic breeding


Maria K. Oosthuizen, Department of Zoology & Entomology, Mammal Research Institute, University of Pretoria, Pretoria 0002, South Africa. Tel: +27 82 483 2529; Fax: +27 12 362 5242
Email: moosthuizen@zoology.up.ac.za


The Cape mole rat Georychus capensis is a solitary mole rat that inhabits the winter rainfall region of the Western Cape Province of South Africa. Circulating basal concentrations of luteinizing hormone (LH) were found to be significantly higher in the breeding season in both sexes. During both the breeding and non-breeding season, administration of exogenous gonadotropin-releasing hormone (GnRH) increased circulatory LH levels. The magnitude of the LH response to an overdose of exogenous GnRH both in and out of the breeding season in males and females was not significantly different. Typically, seasonally breeding species exhibit a down-regulation of the pituitary and reproductive functions out of the breeding season. It appears that there is no down-regulation of GnRH receptors at the level of the pituitary out of the breeding season, because the pituitary responds to an exogenous GnRH challenge equally both in and out of the breeding period. The Cape mole rat exhibits the potential for opportunistic breeding out of the breeding period, provided that environmental factors are favourable. This finding questions whether this mole rat is actually a seasonal breeder or whether reproduction is hindered by the ecological constraint of the lack of opportunities to burrow and find mates at certain times of the year.