A zebrafish test identifies a gene potentially at the root of domestication

A zebrafish test identifies a gene potentially at the root of domestication

graphic abstract. credit: iScience (2022). DOI: 10.1016/j.isci.2022.105704

Researchers at Queen Mary University of London have shown that zebrafish can provide genetic clues for the evolution of social behaviors in humans and domesticated species.

the Researchpublished in iSciencegenetically modified study zebrafish that fail to make the baz1b protein. The results indicate that the gene is not only at the cornerstone of physical and behavioral changes in fish and other domesticated animals Speciesbut also possibly the social relationships of humans.

Domesticated species – such as dogs and cats – appear Genetic differences compared to their wild-type counterparts, including variation in the baz1b gene. These genetic changes are associated with physical and behavioral traits including smaller facial features such as skulls and teeth, as well as being more sensitive to society, less aggressive, and less fearful.

But, studies have also suggested that modern humans They resumed themselves after being separated from their extinct relatives, Neanderthals and Denisovans. In doing so, we went through similar physical and behavioral changes.

All of these changes have been linked to the fact that pets have fewer of a certain type of stem cell, called neural stem cells.

The research led by the Queen Mary team builds on this by examining the effect of removing the function of the baz1b gene, and the effect of doing so on neural crest development and social behaviour.

The mutant zebrafish studied were found to be more socially susceptible than their counterparts with functional baz1b. They showed an increased tendency to interact with members of the same species, although the differences between the two zebrafish species were no longer noticeable once the fish were three weeks old.

In addition to being more social, the mutant zebrafish showed distinctive facial changes later in life. These included changes in eye length and width, a prominent forehead, and a shorter snout. This was accompanied by a decrease in anxiety-related behaviours.

To measure this, the researchers examined the zebrafish’s response to a short flash of light, specifically the distance traveled over a five-minute period after the flash, as well as their response to an acoustic shock and their response when exposed to a novel environment. In all cases, the mutant zebrafish recovered more quickly after the change in state, indicating less fear-related reactivity.

The mutant zebrafish also showed a slight impairment of neural crest development at the larval stages.

The research determined that the baz1b gene in zebrafish affects both morphological and behavioral characteristics associated with domestication syndrome in other species.

“Since the process of self-domestication, which allowed modern humans to form larger social groupsSimilar, among other characteristics, to the domestication process in other “domesticated” species, our research has the potential to help us uncover the biological roots that govern these behaviours.

“Our research supports the current hypothesis that the behavioral and morphological changes that came with domestication in animals and humans can be traced back to the underdevelopment of neural crest stem cells.”

Professor Caroline Brennan, lead author and Professor of Molecular Genetics at Queen Mary University of London, added, “This study offers an interesting perspective on the origins of how we interact with others. While transferring conclusions from zebrafish to other vertebrates can be challenging, Comparative studies Such give insight into the evolution of human cognition.”

Zebrafish were chosen in part for the research because about 80% of genes linked to human disease have a corresponding modifier—a gene in a different species that evolved from common ancestor—making zebrafish an ideal model for studying genetic behavior and the neural circuits that underlie it.

more information:
Jose V. Torres-Pérez et al, Loss of baz1b function in zebrafish results in phenotypic changes consistent with the domestication syndrome, iScience (2022). DOI: 10.1016/j.isci.2022.105704

the quote: Zebrafish test identifies gene potentially at root of domestication (2023, January 3) Retrieved January 3, 2023 from https://phys.org/news/2023-01-zebrafish-gene-potentially-root-domestication.html

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