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Correlated selection responses in animal domestication: the behavioural effects of a growth QTL in chickens
Linköping University, Department of Physics, Chemistry and Biology, Zoology. Linköping University, The Institute of Technology.
2012 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

Studying animal domestication offers an opportunity to understand the mechanisms of evolution. Domestication is associated with a change in selection pressures; selection for production traits is introduced, and animals are faced with larger and denser social groups. It is not unexpected then that domestication produces a simultaneous change in a number of traits, both physiological and behavioural. This correlated change in traits, e.g. egg production and social behaviour has been termed the “domestic phenotype”. However, it has been shown that selection for one trait alone among the many associated with the domestic phenotype can lead to simultaneous changes in others. This may be a result of such traits being inherited together because of pleiotropy or close linkage of several genes affecting different traits. A chicken growth QTL has previously been found in an intercross between White Leghorn layers (WL) and their main wild ancestor, the red junglefowl (RJF). This QTL has also been found to influence explorative and social behaviours. This thesis aims to characterize this QTL further with respect to social and emotional behaviours, and tries to clarify whether pleiotropy or linkage is responsible for the many observed effects. This is done using behavioural phenotyping, genetic marker genotyping, QTL- and gene expression analysis of an intercross line between RJF and WL, and to some extent of the parental RJF and WL lines themselves. The results show that domestication in these chickens has led to increased social tolerance to unfamiliar conspecifics and a tendency to a decrease in the propensity of chickens to explore the environment, and that these effects are partly explained by the previously described growth QTL. The results also indicate that close linkage of genes, rather than pleiotropy, may be responsible for the multiple effect of the QTL, as different traits to some extent seem to be influenced by different areas within the larger QTL region. This information, in combination with that of other studies and with existing and upcoming genetic research techniques, may be used in the design of future breeding programs that take animal behaviour and welfare as well as production traits into account. Findings like these may also be of use in directing research in human psychiatric genetics.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Linköping: Linköping University Electronic Press, 2012. , 42 p.
Series
Linköping Studies in Science and Technology. Dissertations, ISSN 0345-7524 ; 1413
National Category
Natural Sciences
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:liu:diva-73987ISBN: 978-91-7393-013-0 (print)OAI: oai:DiVA.org:liu-73987DiVA: diva2:479698
Public defence
2012-01-20, Planck, Fysikhuset, Campus Valla, Linköpings universitet, Linköping, 09:15 (English)
Opponent
Supervisors
Available from: 2012-01-18 Created: 2012-01-18 Last updated: 2012-01-18Bibliographically approved
List of papers
1. Domestication-related genetic effects on social behavior in chickens - Effects of genotype at a major growth quantitative trait locus
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Domestication-related genetic effects on social behavior in chickens - Effects of genotype at a major growth quantitative trait locus
2009 (English)In: Poultry Science, ISSN 0032-5791, Vol. 88, no 6, 1162-1166 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Domestication is an evolutionary process in which animals become adapted to a life in close proximity to humans. There are typically specific selection pressures associated with this, including living in larger social groups than their wild ancestors. We hypothesized that the genotype at a major growth QTL could affect aspects of social behavior in chickens as well. We performed social behavior tests in red junglefowl (RJF) and White Leghorn (WL) chickens and in chickens from a selected advanced intercross line (SAIL) between RJF and WL, selected for different genotypes at a microsatellite marker locus within the QTL region. Four-week-old pure WL inspected strangers significantly more than pure RJF. Male 4-wk-old SAIL birds, homozygous for the WL allele at the marker locus, differed from those with RJF alleles in a similar way as the pure WL differed from RJF. Furthermore, 155- to 170-d-old male SAIL birds homozygous for the WL allele at the marker locus were less aggressive to unfamiliar conspecifics in a dominance test. The results suggest that domestication has caused changes in social behavior, which, in males, may partly depend on variations in the genotype at the growth QTL where the avian homolog of the arginine vasopressin receptor 1a (AVPR1a) is located. This gene is therefore one of several putative candidate genes for future research.

Keyword
chicken, behavior, genetics, AVPR1a
National Category
Natural Sciences
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:liu:diva-18900 (URN)10.3382/ps.2008-00492 (DOI)
Available from: 2009-06-05 Created: 2009-06-05 Last updated: 2012-01-18Bibliographically approved
2. A Growth QTL on Chicken Chromosome 1 Affects Emotionality and Sociality
Open this publication in new window or tab >>A Growth QTL on Chicken Chromosome 1 Affects Emotionality and Sociality
2011 (English)In: Behavior Genetics, ISSN 0001-8244, E-ISSN 1573-3297, Vol. 41, no 2, 303-311 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Domestication of animals, regardless of species, is often accompanied by simultaneous changes in several physiological and behavioral traits (e.g. growth rate and fearfulness). In this study we compared the social behavior and emotional reactivity, as measured in a battery of behavioral tests, of two groups of chickens selected from a common genetic background, an advanced intercross line between the ancestral red junglefowl ("RJF") and the domesticated White Leghorn layer ("WL"). The birds were selected for homozygosity for alternative alleles at one locus (a microsatellite marker), centrally positioned in a previously identified pleiotropic growth QTL on chromosome 1, closely linked to one major candidate gene (AVPR1a) for certain aspects of social behavior. Birds homozygous for the WL allele ("WL genotype") had a modified pattern of social and emotional reactions than birds homozygous for the RJF allele ("RJF genotype"), shown by different scores in a principal components analysis. These results suggest that the growth QTL affects a number of domestication related behavioral traits, and may have been a primary target of selection during domestication. The QTL contains a multitude of genes, several of which have been linked to social behavior (for example the vasotocin receptor AVPR1a targeted in this experiment). Future studies aimed at making a higher resolution genotypic characterization of the QTL should give more information about which of these genes may be considered the strongest candidates for bringing about the behavioral changes associated with animal domestication.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Springer Science Business Media, 2011
Keyword
Chicken, QTL, Domestication, Behavioral genetics, Social behavior, Emotionality
National Category
Engineering and Technology
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:liu:diva-67037 (URN)10.1007/s10519-010-9377-6 (DOI)000287749700014 ()
Available from: 2011-03-25 Created: 2011-03-25 Last updated: 2017-12-11
3. Effects of a Chicken Growth QTL on Behaviour are due to Linkage rather than Pleiotropy
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Effects of a Chicken Growth QTL on Behaviour are due to Linkage rather than Pleiotropy
(English)Manuscript (preprint) (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

earlier studies, we have found pleiotropic effects of a growth QTL in chickens on behavioural traits that have changed as a result of domestication. In this study we performed a) a refined analysis of the QTL in an advanced intercross line between Red Junglefowl (RJF) and White Leghorn layers (WL) to investigate if different behavioural and physiological traits are associated with different regions of the QTL, and b) brain gene expression analysis (using qRT-PCR) in RJF and WL, comparing the expression between breeds of a number of genes within the growth QTL that may be considered candidates for affecting behavioural traits. The refined QTL analysis was performed on 62 birds from a selected line corresponding to the F7 generation of an RJF×WL intercross (SAIL). The gene expression analysis was performed on 12 RJF and 10 WL birds. In addition to recording of weight data, the SAIL birds were exposed to a behavioural test measuring aspects of sociality and emotionality. The QTL analysis found a significant association between body weight at 8 days of age and a 1.7 MB region in the QTL, and a suggestive association between emotionality related behaviours and a different part, 7.5 MB large, of the QTL. The gene expression analysis showed differential expression of AVPR2 (receptor for vasotocin), possibly AVPR1a (another vasotocin receptor) and NRCAM (involved in neural development) in the lower frontal lobes of the brains of RJF and WL birds. It therefore seems that linkage of several different genes affecting different traits, rather than pleiotropy of one or a few, may explain the many effects of this QTL, and that AVPR2, AVPR1a and NRCAM cannot be discarded as candidate genes for the observed effects.

National Category
Natural Sciences
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:liu:diva-73984 (URN)
Available from: 2012-01-18 Created: 2012-01-18 Last updated: 2015-03-11Bibliographically approved
4. Social preference and support seeking in chickens is related to genotype on a growth QTL
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Social preference and support seeking in chickens is related to genotype on a growth QTL
(English)Manuscript (preprint) (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

A growth related QTL on chicken chromosome 1 has previously been shown to influence both emotionality and social behaviour in an intercross line between Red Junglefowl (RJF, ancestor of all domestic chicken breeds) and the domesticated White Leghorn layer (WL). Social support from a familiar animal has been shown to attenuate stress response in other species. In this study we therefore used the RJF×WL intercross line to investigate whether stress in the form of physical restraint affects the way birds allocate their time between familiar and unfamiliar conspecifics in a social preference test. A refined QTL study was performed, focussing on the region of the previously reported growth QTL to find possible loci affecting traits related to social preference and social support. A significant QTL was found to influence both social preference under undisturbed circumstances and social support seeking in response to stress. A WL allele at this QTL was associated with a preference for unfamiliar individuals but also with a shift towards familiar ones in response to stress. A second, suggestive, QTL also affected social support seeking, but in the opposite direction; a WL allele was associated with seeking social support from unfamiliar individuals. It is difficult to speculate on causative genes, but it is worth noting that AVPR1a (known for effects on social behaviour), AVPR2, NRCAM (related to autism) and GRIP1 (Glutamate Receptor Interacting Protein) are located this chromosomal area.

Keyword
Chicken; domestication; QTL; social behaviour; social support
National Category
Natural Sciences
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:liu:diva-73985 (URN)
Available from: 2012-01-18 Created: 2012-01-18 Last updated: 2015-03-11Bibliographically approved

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