Genetic polymorphism as a background of animal behavior


Miho Inoue-Murayama, Wildlife Research Center of Kyoto University, Sakyo, Kyoto 606-8203, Japan. (Email:


Various studies have shown the associations between differences in human behavioral traits and genetic polymorphism of neurotransmitter-related proteins such as receptors, transporters and monoamine oxidase. To clarify the genetic background of animal behavior, corresponding regions in animals have been analyzed. The study has been especially focused on primates, as the evolutionally closest animal to humans, and on dogs, as the socially closest animal to humans. In primates, polymorphisms were discovered between or within species, and the functional effects on neural transmission were found to be different by alleles. Even in apes, the closest species to humans, function was different from that in humans. In dogs, allele distributions of several genes were different among breeds showing different behavioral traits, and genes associated with individual differences in aggressiveness and aptitude of working dogs were surveyed. The survey of behavior-related genes has also been carried out in other mammals such as horses and cetaceans. Genes controlling various behaviors in birds have also been reported. The marker genes for behavior will provide useful information for human evolution, welfare of zoo animals and effective selection of working dogs and industry animals.