Mammalian Genome

, Volume 23, Issue 1–2, pp 164–177 | Cite as

Genetics of behavior in the silver fox

  • Anna V. Kukekova
  • Svetlana V. Temnykh
  • Jennifer L. Johnson
  • Lyudmila N. Trut
  • Gregory M. AclandEmail author


The silver fox provides a rich resource for investigating the genetics of behavior, with strains developed by intensely selective breeding that display markedly different behavioral phenotypes. Until recently, however, the tools for conducting molecular genetic investigations in this species were very limited. In this review, the history of development of this resource and the tools to exploit it are described. Although the focus is on the genetics of domestication in the silver fox, there is a broader context. In particular, one expectation of the silver fox research is that it will be synergistic with studies in other species, including humans, to yield a more comprehensive understanding of the molecular mechanisms and evolution of a wider range of social cognitive behaviors.


Tame Polymorphism Information Content Aggressive Population Canine Genome Sequence Mammalian Genotyping Service 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



We are grateful to Irina V. Pivovarova, Anastasiya V. Vladimirova, Tatyana I. Semenova, and all the animal keepers at the ICG experimental farm for research assistance. We thank Dr. Aaron Wong and Dr. Mark Neff for providing information on amplification and polymorphism of a large set of newly developed canine SSR markers using a panel of fox DNA samples. We thank Dr. K. Gordon Lark and Kevin Chase, Anastasiya V. Kharlamova, Irina N. Oskina, and Rimma G. Gulevich for insightful discussions. GMA and AVK gratefully acknowledge NEI/NIH grants RO1MH077811, RO1EY006855, and R24GM082910; the support of a Roche Sequencing Grant; a CRIS/USDA Grant; and a CVG Seed Grant Award from the Cornell University Center for Vertebrate Genomics.

Conflicts of interest

The authors have no conflicts of interest to disclose.

Supplementary material

335_2011_9373_MOESM1_ESM.xls (73 kb)
Supplementary Table 1 Ninety-eight binary traits for scoring fox behavior and their contributions to the first two principal components of fox behavior The trait code and a brief description of each trait are listed in columns 2 and 3, respectively. Each trait is a specific behavior that can be reproducibly scored in a binary manner. Columns 4 and 5 (PC1 loading and PC2 loading) list the trait loadings (calculated as trait rotation coefficients using the function prcomp in R) for PC1 and PC2, respectively. For each PC, the 20 discrete behavioral observations (traits) that load most strongly on and thus most strongly determine that PC are indicated in bold. Loadings with opposite signs form opposite extremes of each PC. Comparison of the contributions or loadings for each binary trait for PC1 and PC2 demonstrate the differences between PC1 and PC2. (XLS 73 kb)
335_2011_9373_MOESM2_ESM.pdf (995 kb)
Supplementary Fig. 1 Integrated meiotic linkage map of the silver fox (Vulpes vulpes). The map contains 408 markers. Autosomes were mapped using 916 offspring from 196 families. The X chromosome was mapped with 804 offspring from 147 families. Each linkage group corresponding to a fox chromosome (VVU1–VVU16 and VVUX) is presented on the left side of each panel and aligned with the corresponding segments of the 7.6 × canine genome sequence (CanFam2.0) on the right side of the same panel. Lines connect markers that are both mapped onto the fox meiotic linkage map and identified in the assembly of the canine genome. Markers in bold italic map to unique locations with confidence ≥1000:1 (LOD ≥3.0). Markers in plain format were placed to unique locations with confidence ≥100:1 (LOD ≥2.0). Markers on the far left side of each linkage group have adjacent vertical bars to indicate their most likely position at LOD 2.0. Genetic distances between markers were calculated using the Kosambi mapping function. In general, most dog chromosomes each map to a single fox chromosome. Canine chromosomes that have their homologs divided among more than one fox chromosome are marked by asterisks (*) (see VVU1, 2, 4, 5, and 13). Centromere positions of canine chromosomes are indicated in accordance with the dog genome sequence, assuming that the centromere is located at the beginning of each chromosome. Where different fragments of a single canine chromosome correspond to different fox chromosomal segments, a double slash indicates the break point on the canine chromosome. Positions of markers in the canine sequence are indicated in accordance with the CanFam2.0 assembly, except for markers REN315H04 and AHTH91. In the present study, marker REN315H04 mapped to VVU2 in a region corresponding to CFA2, which is in agreement with the Breen et al. (2001) and Guyon et al. (2003) canine maps and the CanFam1.0 assembly of the canine genome (chr 2: 84,742,789–84,742,951). The CanFam2.0 assembly, however, locates marker REN315H04 on CFA9 (chr 9: 21,100,622–21,100,777). Marker AHTH91 was identified only in the CanFam1.0 assembly (PDF 996 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • Anna V. Kukekova
    • 1
  • Svetlana V. Temnykh
    • 1
  • Jennifer L. Johnson
    • 1
  • Lyudmila N. Trut
    • 2
  • Gregory M. Acland
    • 1
    Email author
  1. 1.Baker Institute for Animal HealthCornell University College of Veterinary MedicineIthacaUSA
  2. 2.Russian Academy of Sciences, Institute of Cytology and GeneticsNovosibirskRussia

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