Behavioural genetics

  • Article
    | Open Access

    Pupariation in Drosophila is triggered by the steroid-hormone ecdysone and requires coordination between associated behavioral and body-reshaping motor subprograms. The authors show that coordination requires ecdysone-dependent Dilp8-Lgr3 signaling between the cuticle epidermis and interneurons.

    • Fabiana Heredia
    • , Yanel Volonté
    •  & Alisson M. Gontijo
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Many organisms, including moths, use pheromones to attract mates. A study using multiple genomic tools and gene editing identifies a new, neuronal gene underlying mate preference and shows that signal and response loci are in linkage disequilibrium despite being physically unlinked.

    • Melanie Unbehend
    • , Genevieve M. Kozak
    •  & Erik B. Dopman
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Exactly how some animals use magnetic fields to navigate is a longstanding puzzle. A study using a new behavioural assay and transgenic butterflies finds the cryptochrome gene necessary for inclination-based magnetic sensing, and shows that both antennae and eyes, which express this gene, are magnetosensory organs.

    • Guijun Wan
    • , Ashley N. Hayden
    •  & Christine Merlin
  • Article
    | Open Access

    The role of ciliary/centriolar components in the postnatal brain is unclear. Here, the authors show via ablation of Pcm1 in mice that degenerative ciliary/centriolar phenotypes induce neuroanatomical and behavioral changes. Sequencing of PCM1 in human cohorts and zebrafish in vivo complementation suggests PCM1 mutations can contribute to schizophrenia.

    • Tanner O. Monroe
    • , Melanie E. Garrett
    •  & Nicholas Katsanis
  • Article
    | Open Access

    The genetic mechanisms underlying mate choice decisions can inform our understanding of speciation. A study on Heliconius butterflies identifies 5 candidate genes that would allow sympatric species to evolve distinct preferences without altering their visual perception of the wider environment.

    • Matteo Rossi
    • , Alexander E. Hausmann
    •  & Richard M. Merrill
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Epidemiological studies have shown an association between sedentary behaviours and cardiovascular disease risk. Here, van de Vegte et al. perform GWAS for self-reported sedentary behaviours (TV watching, computer use, driving) and Mendelian randomization analyses to explore potential causal relationships with coronary artery disease.

    • Yordi J. van de Vegte
    • , M. Abdullah Said
    •  & Niek Verweij
  • Article
    | Open Access

    The choice of food intake is at least partially influenced by genetics, even though the effect sizes appear rather modest. Here, Cole et al. perform GWAS for food intake (85 individual food items and 85 derived dietary patterns) and test potential causal relationships with cardiometabolic traits using Mendelian randomization.

    • Joanne B. Cole
    • , Jose C. Florez
    •  & Joel N. Hirschhorn
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Male fruitflies sing a patterned wing song during courtship. Here, the authors show that females sing a distinct song during copulation, which is controlled by sex-specific neurons, depends on seminal fluid from the male accessory gland and modulates latency of female remating with subsequent males.

    • Peter Kerwin
    • , Jiasheng Yuan
    •  & Anne C. von Philipsborn
  • Article
    | Open Access

    It remains unclear whether the functional organization of the visual cortex is shaped by genetic or environmental factors. Using fMRI in twins (n = 424), these authors show that activation patterns in category-selective areas are heritable, and that the genetic effects in these areas are linked to structural properties of cortical tissue.

    • Nooshin Abbasi
    • , John Duncan
    •  & Reza Rajimehr
  • Article
    | Open Access

    From observational studies, alcohol consumption behaviours are known to be correlated in spouses. Here, Howe et al. use partners’ genotypic information in a Mendelian randomization framework and show that a SNP in the ADH1B gene associates with partner’s alcohol consumption, suggesting that alcohol consumption affects mate choice.

    • Laurence J. Howe
    • , Daniel J. Lawson
    •  & Gibran Hemani
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Neurodevelopmental disorders (NDDs) are a heterogeneous group of diseases for which the genetic basis is still unknown in more than half of the cases. Here, the authors report a NDD associated with disruptive variants in the TANC2 gene and show that rols, the TANC2 homolog in flies, is required for synapse growth and function.

    • Hui Guo
    • , Elisa Bettella
    •  & Evan E. Eichler
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a common mental health problem. Here, the authors report a GWAS from the Psychiatric Genomics Consortium in which they identify two risk loci in European ancestry and one locus in African ancestry individuals and find that PTSD is genetically correlated with several other psychiatric traits.

    • Caroline M. Nievergelt
    • , Adam X. Maihofer
    •  & Karestan C. Koenen
  • Article
    | Open Access

    A recent GWAS reported 12 genetic loci for attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Here, Liao et al. perform transcriptomic imputation using these data and 12 brain-relevant tissues from GTEx and CMC to identify 9 genes associated with ADHD by TWAS, 3 of which had not yet been reported for ADHD.

    • Calwing Liao
    • , Alexandre D. Laporte
    •  & Guy A. Rouleau
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Mating between first or second-degree relatives is prohibited in most countries, yet it occurs and is under-studied. Here, Yengo et al. use large runs of homozygosity from the UK Biobank resource to provide DNA-based quantification of extreme inbreeding and its consequence for health and other complex traits.

    • Loic Yengo
    • , Naomi R. Wray
    •  & Peter M. Visscher
  • Article
    | Open Access

    People with a genetic deletion of the 15q11.2 locus are at increased risk for psychiatric disorders and white matter disturbances, but the gene(s) responsible are unclear. Here, the authors show that low dosage of CYFIP1, present in the human 15q11.2 region, alters white matter structure and cognition in rats.

    • Ana I. Silva
    • , Josephine E. Haddon
    •  & Lawrence S. Wilkinson
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Quality, quantity and timing of sleep are important factors for overall human health. Here, the authors perform GWAS for sleep traits estimated using wearable accelerometers and identify 47 genetic associations, including 26 novel associations for measures of sleep quality and 10 for nocturnal sleep duration.

    • Samuel E. Jones
    • , Vincent T. van Hees
    •  & Andrew R. Wood
  • Article
    | Open Access

    GWAS have previously found 24 genomic loci associated with chronotype, an individual’s preference for early or late sleep timing. Here, the authors identify 327 additional loci in a sample of 697,828 individuals and further explore the relationships of chronotype with metabolic and psychiatric diseases.

    • Samuel E. Jones
    • , Jacqueline M. Lane
    •  & Michael N. Weedon
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Multigenerational outbred populations from an advanced intercross line (AIL) of mice represent useful resources for genome wide association analysis. Here, the authors analyze 1,063 LG x SM AIL mice to identify significant associations for 50 traits relevant to human health and disease.

    • Natalia M. Gonzales
    • , Jungkyun Seo
    •  & Abraham A. Palmer
  • Article
    | Open Access

    The halictid bee Lasioglossum albipes has both solitary and eusocial individuals, making it a model for social evolution. Here, Kocher et al. identify a genetic variation associated with this social polymorphism, including a variant that can regulate the expression of an autism-associated gene, syntaxin 1a.

    • Sarah D. Kocher
    • , Ricardo Mallarino
    •  & Naomi E. Pierce
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Looming discs are perceived as an innate threat by flies and elicit a survival response. Here, the authors report that flies exhibit either an escape or freezing response depending on their walking speed and identify the involvement of a pair of neurons in mediating the behavior.

    • Ricardo Zacarias
    • , Shigehiro Namiki
    •  & Marta A. Moita
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Development may be plastic and influenced by parental care. Here, the authors show that experimental reduction of maternal care in the small carpenter bee leads to extensive changes in gene expression and splicing, minor changes in methylation, and greater offspring aggression and social avoidance.

    • Samuel V. Arsenault
    • , Brendan G. Hunt
    •  & Sandra M. Rehan
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Neuroticism can be assessed as a composite score of individual items. Here, Nagel et al. perform genetic association studies for 12 neuroticism items and the sum-score and demonstrate genetic heterogeneity at the item-level.

    • Mats Nagel
    • , Kyoko Watanabe
    •  & Sophie van der Sluis
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Taste sensilla are Drosophila sensory organs containing taste neurons, which have differential tuning for bitter compounds. Here, the authors systematically examine what combinations of gustatory receptor genes confer a specific taste response profile in different bitter taste neurons.

    • Ha Yeon Sung
    • , Yong Taek Jeong
    •  & Seok Jun Moon
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Protein phosphatase1 (PP1), a signalling and transcriptional regulator, and epigenetic modulator is known to be a memory suppressor. Here the authors show that memory control by PP1 involves the microRNA cluster miR-183/96/182, and that this cluster is selectively regulated during memory formation in mice.

    • Bisrat T. Woldemichael
    • , Ali Jawaid
    •  & Isabelle M. Mansuy
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Physiological effects of psychological stress and infection in mothers can increase the incidence of anxiety and psychiatric diseases in offsprings and in subsequent generation. Here, Miklos Toth and colleagues show that intergenerational inheritance of neurological traits is propagated across multiple generations independently by parallel non-genetic mechanisms involving independent segregation of epigenetic specific loci.

    • Emma Mitchell
    • , Shifra L. Klein
    •  & Miklos Toth
  • Article |

    Sequential segmentation in development is best described in vertebrates, where it relies on cell proliferation and shows regular periodicity. Here, the authors show that in the flour beetle segments are added with irregular rate and their elongation during periods of fast growth relies mostly on cell movements.

    • A. Nakamoto
    • , S. D. Hester
    •  & T. A. Williams
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Post-translational mRNA editing has the potential to enhance the diversity of gene products and alter the functional properties of proteins. Here, Li et al. provide evidence that RNA editing is involved in generating caste-specific contrasting phenotypes in the leaf-cutting ant Acromyrmex echinatior.

    • Qiye Li
    • , Zongji Wang
    •  & Guojie Zhang
  • Article |

    Mice are important animal models for human disease research, however artificially selected laboratory mice may be unsuitable for studies of adaptive behavioural response. Here, the authors backcross wild mice with mutant laboratory mice and uncover behavioural gene functions unique to wild mice, thereby offering an improved model for studying human traits.

    • Lea Chalfin
    • , Molly Dayan
    •  & Tali Kimchi
  • Article |

    The distance that individuals disperse to between birth and first breeding determines the dynamics and genetic composition of natural populations. Here the authors show that in great tits (Parus major), the distance of local dispersal is genetically coupled with exploratory behaviour measured in the lab.

    • Peter Korsten
    • , Thijs van Overveld
    •  & Erik Matthysen