Genetics of Interactive Behavior in Silver Foxes (Vulpes vulpes)
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Individuals involved in a social interaction exhibit different behavioral traits that, in combination, form the individual’s behavioral responses. Selectively bred strains of silver foxes (Vulpes vulpes) demonstrate markedly different behaviors in their response to humans. To identify the genetic basis of these behavioral differences we constructed a large F2 population including 537 individuals by cross-breeding tame and aggressive fox strains. 98 fox behavioral traits were recorded during social interaction with a human experimenter in a standard four-step test. Patterns of fox behaviors during the test were evaluated using principal component (PC) analysis. Genetic mapping identified eight unique significant and suggestive QTL. Mapping results for the PC phenotypes from different test steps showed little overlap suggesting that different QTL are involved in regulation of behaviors exhibited in different behavioral contexts. Many individual behavioral traits mapped to the same genomic regions as PC phenotypes. This provides additional information about specific behaviors regulated by these loci. Further, three pairs of epistatic loci were also identified for PC phenotypes suggesting more complex genetic architecture of the behavioral differences between the two strains than what has previously been observed.
KeywordsBehavior genetics Social behavior Quantitative trait loci Domestication Aggression Epistasis Vulpes vulpes Canis familiaris
We are grateful to Irina V. Pivovarova, Tatyana I. Semenova, and all the animal keepers at the ICG experimental farm for research assistance. We thank K. Gordon Lark and Kevin Chase for advice and important discussions. The project was supported by National Institutes of Health Grant MH077811, NIH FIRCA Grant TW008098, USDA Federal Hatch Project #538922, Program of the Siberian Branch of the Russian Academy of Sciences #0324-2015-0007, Grant #13-04-00420 from the Russian Fund for Basic Research, and Campus Research Board Grant from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.
Conflict of interest
Ronald M. Nelson, Svetlana V. Temnykh, Jennifer L. Johnson, Anastasiya V. Kharlamova, Anastasiya V. Vladimirova, Rimma G. Gulevich, Darya V. Shepeleva, Irina N. Oskina, Gregory M. Acland, Lars Rönnegård, Lyudmila N. Trut, Örjan Carlborg, Anna V. Kukekova declare that they have no conflict of interest.
Human and animal rights and informed consent
All institutional and national guidelines for the care and use of laboratory animals were followed. All animal procedures at the Institute of Cytology and Genetics of the Russian Academy of Sciences complied with standards for humane care and use of laboratory animals by foreign institutions.
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