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Discrete genetic modules are responsible for complex burrow evolution in Peromyscus mice.
MedLine Citation:
PMID:  23325221     Owner:  NLM     Status:  In-Process    
Abstract/OtherAbstract:
Relative to morphological traits, we know little about how genetics influence the evolution of complex behavioural differences in nature. It is unclear how the environment influences natural variation in heritable behaviour, and whether complex behavioural differences evolve through few genetic changes, each affecting many aspects of behaviour, or through the accumulation of several genetic changes that, when combined, give rise to behavioural complexity. Here we show that in nature, oldfield mice (Peromyscus polionotus) build complex burrows with long entrance and escape tunnels, and that burrow length is consistent across populations, although burrow depth varies with soil composition. This burrow architecture is in contrast with the small, simple burrows of its sister species, deer mice (P. maniculatus). When investigated under laboratory conditions, both species recapitulate their natural burrowing behaviour. Genetic crosses between the two species reveal that the derived burrows of oldfield mice are dominant and evolved through the addition of multiple genetic changes. In burrows built by first-generation backcross mice, entrance-tunnel length and the presence of an escape tunnel can be uncoupled, suggesting that these traits are modular. Quantitative trait locus analysis also indicates that tunnel length segregates as a complex trait, affected by at least three independent genetic regions, whereas the presence of an escape tunnel is associated with only a single locus. Together, these results suggest that complex behaviours--in this case, a classic 'extended phenotype'--can evolve through multiple genetic changes each affecting distinct behaviour modules.
Authors:
Jesse N Weber; Brant K Peterson; Hopi E Hoekstra
Publication Detail:
Type:  Journal Article; Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't; Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.    
Journal Detail:
Title:  Nature     Volume:  493     ISSN:  1476-4687     ISO Abbreviation:  Nature     Publication Date:  2013 Jan 
Date Detail:
Created Date:  2013-01-17     Completed Date:  -     Revised Date:  -    
Medline Journal Info:
Nlm Unique ID:  0410462     Medline TA:  Nature     Country:  England    
Other Details:
Languages:  eng     Pagination:  402-5     Citation Subset:  IM    
Affiliation:
Department of Organismic & Evolutionary Biology, Museum of Comparative Zoology, 26 Oxford Street, Cambridge, Massachusetts 02138, USA.
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Comment In:
Nature. 2013 Jan 17;493(7432):312   [PMID:  23325210 ]

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