Studies on the consequences of ocean acidification for the marine ecosystem have revealed behavioural changes in coral reef fishes exposed to sustained near-future CO2 levels. The changes have been linked to altered function of GABAergic neurotransmitter systems, because the behavioural alterations can be reversed rapidly by treatment with the GABAA receptor antagonist gabazine. Characterization of the molecular mechanisms involved would be greatly aided if these can be examined in a well-characterized model organism with a sequenced genome. It was recently shown that CO2-induced behavioural alterations are not confined to tropical species, but also affect the three-spined stickleback, although an involvement of the GABAA receptor was not examined. Here, we show that loss of lateralization in the stickleback can be restored rapidly and completely by gabazine treatment. This points towards a worrying universality of disturbed GABAA function after high-CO2 exposure in fishes from tropical to temperate marine habitats. Importantly, the stickleback is a model species with a sequenced and annotated genome, which greatly facilitates future studies on underlying molecular mechanisms.
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