Cell proliferation occurs in the brain of fish throughout life. This mitotic activity contributes new neurons to some brain subdivisions, suggesting potential for plasticity in neural development. Recently we found that the telencephalon in salmonids (salmon, trout) is significantly reduced in fish reared in hatcheries compared to wild fish, and that these differences resulted in part from rearing conditions. Here, we describe localized areas of cell proliferation in the telencephalon of juvenile coho salmon (Oncorhynchus kisutch) and begin to explore whether mitotic activity in these areas is sensitive to environmental conditions. Using the 5-bromo-2'-deoxyuridine (BrdU) cell birthdating technique, we localized proliferating cells in the telencephalon to three distinct zones (proliferation zones 1a, 1b, and 2). We measured the volumes of these zones and showed that they grew at different rates relative to body size. We also found that variation in environmental rearing conditions altered the density of BrdU-labeled cells in proliferation zone 2, but not in zones 1a or 1b. However, this change in mitotic activity did not generate a difference in telencephalon size. These results suggest that environmental conditions, and associated changes in swimming activity or social structure, may influence rates of cell proliferation in the fish forebrain.



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