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Genetics of personalities: no simple answers for complex traits

Tschirren, Barbara LU and Bensch, Staffan LU (2010) In Molecular Ecology 19(4). p.624-626
Abstract
Identifying the genes that underlie phenotypic variation in natural populations, and assessing the consequences of polymorphisms at these loci for individual fitness are major objectives in evolutionary biology. Yet, with the exception of a few success stories, little progress has been made, and our understanding of the link between genotype and phenotype is still in its infancy. For example, although body length in humans is largely genetically determined, with heritability estimates greater than 0.8, massive genome-wide association studies (GWAS) have only been able to account for a very small proportion of this variation (Gudbjartsson et al. 2008). If it is so difficult to explain the genetics behind relatively 'simple' traits, can we... (More)
Identifying the genes that underlie phenotypic variation in natural populations, and assessing the consequences of polymorphisms at these loci for individual fitness are major objectives in evolutionary biology. Yet, with the exception of a few success stories, little progress has been made, and our understanding of the link between genotype and phenotype is still in its infancy. For example, although body length in humans is largely genetically determined, with heritability estimates greater than 0.8, massive genome-wide association studies (GWAS) have only been able to account for a very small proportion of this variation (Gudbjartsson et al. 2008). If it is so difficult to explain the genetics behind relatively 'simple' traits, can we envision that it will at all be possible to find genes underlying complex behavioural traits in wild non-model organisms? Some notable examples suggest that this can indeed be a worthwhile endeavour. Recently, the circadian rhythm gene Clock has been associated with timing of breeding in a wild blue tit population (Johnsen et al. 2007; Liedvogel et al. 2009) and the Pgi gene to variation in dispersal and flight endurance in Glanville fritillary butterflies (Niitepold et al. 2009). A promising candidate gene for influencing complex animal personality traits, also known as behavioural syndromes (Sih et al. 2004), is the dopamine receptor D4 (DRD4) gene. Within the last decade, polymorphisms in this gene have been associated with variation in novelty seeking and exploration behaviour in a range of species, from humans to great tits (Schinka et al. 2002; Fidler et al. 2007). In this issue, Korsten et al. (2010) attempt to replicate this previously observed association in wild-living birds, and test for the generality of the association between DRD4 and personality across a number of European great tit populations. (Less)
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author
organization
publishing date
type
Contribution to journal
publication status
published
subject
keywords
DRD4, great tit Parus major, behavioural syndromes, novelty seeking
in
Molecular Ecology
volume
19
issue
4
pages
624 - 626
publisher
Wiley-Blackwell
external identifiers
  • wos:000273953400002
  • scopus:77749301199
ISSN
0962-1083
DOI
10.1111/j.1365-294X.2009.04519.x
language
English
LU publication?
yes
id
96ed6ec3-7a08-486b-af94-8d255dc8d32d (old id 1546914)
date added to LUP
2010-02-25 11:00:10
date last changed
2018-06-17 03:12:32
@article{96ed6ec3-7a08-486b-af94-8d255dc8d32d,
  abstract     = {Identifying the genes that underlie phenotypic variation in natural populations, and assessing the consequences of polymorphisms at these loci for individual fitness are major objectives in evolutionary biology. Yet, with the exception of a few success stories, little progress has been made, and our understanding of the link between genotype and phenotype is still in its infancy. For example, although body length in humans is largely genetically determined, with heritability estimates greater than 0.8, massive genome-wide association studies (GWAS) have only been able to account for a very small proportion of this variation (Gudbjartsson et al. 2008). If it is so difficult to explain the genetics behind relatively 'simple' traits, can we envision that it will at all be possible to find genes underlying complex behavioural traits in wild non-model organisms? Some notable examples suggest that this can indeed be a worthwhile endeavour. Recently, the circadian rhythm gene Clock has been associated with timing of breeding in a wild blue tit population (Johnsen et al. 2007; Liedvogel et al. 2009) and the Pgi gene to variation in dispersal and flight endurance in Glanville fritillary butterflies (Niitepold et al. 2009). A promising candidate gene for influencing complex animal personality traits, also known as behavioural syndromes (Sih et al. 2004), is the dopamine receptor D4 (DRD4) gene. Within the last decade, polymorphisms in this gene have been associated with variation in novelty seeking and exploration behaviour in a range of species, from humans to great tits (Schinka et al. 2002; Fidler et al. 2007). In this issue, Korsten et al. (2010) attempt to replicate this previously observed association in wild-living birds, and test for the generality of the association between DRD4 and personality across a number of European great tit populations.},
  author       = {Tschirren, Barbara and Bensch, Staffan},
  issn         = {0962-1083},
  keyword      = {DRD4,great tit Parus major,behavioural syndromes,novelty seeking},
  language     = {eng},
  number       = {4},
  pages        = {624--626},
  publisher    = {Wiley-Blackwell},
  series       = {Molecular Ecology},
  title        = {Genetics of personalities: no simple answers for complex traits},
  url          = {http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/j.1365-294X.2009.04519.x},
  volume       = {19},
  year         = {2010},
}