Natural Genetic Variation Underlying Differences in Peromyscus Repetitive and Social/Aggressive Behaviors

Abstract

Peromyscus maniculatus (BW) and P. polionotus (PO) are interfertile North American species that differ in many characteristics. For example, PO exhibit monogamy and BW animals are susceptible to repetitive behaviors and thus a model for neurobehavioral disorders such as Autism. We analyzed these two stocks as well as their hybrids, a BW YPO consomic line (previously shown to alter glucose homeostasis) and a natural P. maniculatus agouti variant (ANb = wide band agouti). We show that PO animals engage in far less repetitive behavior than BW animals, that this trait is dominant, and that trait distribution in both species is bi-modal. The ANb allele also reduces such behaviors, particularly in females. PO, F1, and ANb animals all dig significantly more than BW. Increased self-grooming is also a PO dominant trait, and there is a bimodal trait distribution in all groups except BW. The inter-stock differences in self-grooming are greater between males, and the consomic data suggest the Y chromosome plays a role. The monogamous PO animals engage in more social behavior than BW; hybrid animals exhibit intermediate levels. Surprisingly, ANb animals are also more social than BW animals, although ANb interactions led to aggressive interactions at higher levels than any other group. PO animals exhibited the lowest incidence of aggressive behaviors, while the hybrids exhibited BW levels. Thus this group exhibits natural, genetically tractable variation in several biomedically relevant traits.

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Acknowledgments

We thank Charlie Lawrence for discussions in developing these studies. We thank Noldus representative Wilant van Giessen for analysis suggestions and trial of the Observer software. The study was funded by NIH P40 OD 010961.

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Correspondence to Paul B. Vrana.

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Edited by Stephen Maxson.

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Shorter, K.R., Owen, A., Anderson, V. et al. Natural Genetic Variation Underlying Differences in Peromyscus Repetitive and Social/Aggressive Behaviors. Behav Genet 44, 126–135 (2014). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10519-013-9640-8

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Keywords

  • Stereotypies
  • Aggression
  • Social interaction
  • Y chromosome
  • Peromyscus