Genes located in a chromosomal inversion are correlated with territorial song in white-throated sparrows

Genes, Brain, and Behavior
Wendy M Zinzow-KramerDonna L Maney

Abstract

The genome of the white-throated sparrow (Zonotrichia albicollis) contains an inversion polymorphism on chromosome 2 that is linked to predictable variation in a suite of phenotypic traits including plumage color, aggression and parental behavior. Differences in gene expression between the two color morphs, which represent the two common inversion genotypes (ZAL2/ZAL2 and ZAL2/ZAL2(m) ), may therefore advance our understanding of the molecular underpinnings of these phenotypes. To identify genes that are differentially expressed between the two morphs and correlated with behavior, we quantified gene expression and terrirorial aggression, including song, in a population of free-living white-throated sparrows. We analyzed gene expression in two brain regions, the medial amygdala (MeA) and hypothalamus. Both regions are part of a 'social behavior network', which is rich in steroid hormone receptors and previously linked with territorial behavior. Using weighted gene co-expression network analyses, we identified modules of genes that were correlated with both morph and singing behavior. The majority of these genes were located within the inversion, showing the profound effect of the inversion on the expression of genes captured by ...Continue Reading

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