Genomic Response to Selection for Predatory Behavior in a Mammalian Model of Adaptive Radiation

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Abstract

If genetic architectures of various quantitative traits are similar, as studies on model organisms suggest, comparable selection pressures should produce similar molecular patterns for various traits. To test this prediction, we used a laboratory model of vertebrate adaptive radiation to investigate the genetic basis of the response to selection for predatory behavior and compare it with evolution of aerobic capacity reported in an earlier work. After 13 generations of selection, the proportion of bank voles (Myodes [=Clethrionomys] glareolus) showing predatory behavior was five times higher in selected lines than in controls. We analyzed the hippocampus and liver transcriptomes and found repeatable changes in allele frequencies and gene expression. Genes with the largest differences between predatory and control lines are associated with hunger, aggression, biological rhythms, and functioning of the nervous system. Evolution of predatory behavior could be meaningfully compared with evolution of high aerobic capacity, because the experiments and analyses were performed in the same methodological framework. The number of genes that changed expression was much smaller in predatory lines, and allele frequencies changed repeatably in predatory but not in aerobic lines. This suggests that more variants of smaller effects underlie variation in aerobic performance, whereas fewer variants of larger effects underlie variation in predatory behavior. Our results thus contradict the view that comparable selection pressures for different quantitative traits produce similar molecular patterns. Therefore, to gain knowledge about molecular-level response to selection for complex traits, we need to investigate not only multiple replicate populations but also multiple quantitative traits.

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