Strains of silver foxes, selectively bred at the Institute of Cytology

Strains of silver foxes, selectively bred at the Institute of Cytology and Genetics of the Russian Academy of Sciences, are a well established, novel model for studying the genetic basis of behavior, and the processes involved in canine domestication. foxes. F1 foxes yield GDC-0941 supplier intermediate values that extend into the ranges of both the tame and aggressive foxes, while the scores of the backcross generation resegregate. These measures can thus be used for QTL mapping GDC-0941 supplier to explore the genetic basis of tame and aggressive behavior in foxes, which should provide new insights into the mechanisms of mammalian behavior and canine domestication. 2004). Foxes bred for docility demonstrate a friendly response to humans similar to that of domestic dogs. In contrast, foxes from a strain selected for aggressive behavior are aggressive toward humans and difficult to handle. Inter-specific aggression in defense of the subject’s own bodily integrity is classified as defensive aggression (Blanchard and Blanchard, 2005). These tame and aggressive fox strains have been bred separately for over 40 generations under strong selection for their respective phenotypes, but in a manner designed to deliberately minimize inbreeding. Inbreeding coefficients during selection remained in the range 0.02?0.07 (Trut, 1999, 2001; Trut et al., 2004), and this low level of inbreeding has been confirmed in recent analysis with microsatellite markers (Kukekova et al., 2004). The genetic nature of these fox behavioral phenotypes is well established (Trut, 1980a, 1980b, 1999, 2001). Because these genetically determined behavioral differences segregate in very large pedigrees of a single species, they offer an opportunity to map and identify the genes responsible. The evolutionary closeness of fox and dog (Wayne 2005). Although the original farm-fox population showed a continuous variation in behavior from relatively less aggressive and fearful to extremely aggressive, very quickly the phenotypes in the selected tame and aggressive populations no longer overlapped. Foxes from the tame population were scored by ranking them based on a repertoire of tame behaviors which were either shown or not during interaction with an experimenter under the standardized conditions. Scores of tame foxes reflect the intensity of the fox’s friendly response toward the experimenter: the tamest foxes are assigned scores of 3.5?4.0; the least tame score 0.5?1.0. Behavioral assessment in the tame population was further refined by evaluating a EPHB2 comprehensive set of measures for scoring behaviors contributing to tameness by principal-components analysis (Vasilieva and Trut, 1990). In contrast, the major criterion for measuring behavior in the aggressive population was the critical distance between the experimenter and the caged GDC-0941 supplier animal when the animal first demonstrates an aggressive reaction and intensity of the fox aggressive response (Trut, 1980a, 1980b, 1999, 2001; Kukekova 2004; Kukekova et al., 2005, 2007). Assignment of behavioral phenotypes in F1 clearly demonstrates that the traditional scoring systems established for selection of foxes for behavior has limited resolution for measuring behavior as a continuous variable in the cross-bred pedigrees. Broadly, F1 foxes exhibit a wide range of behaviors; substantial percent of foxes had low values on both the tame and aggressive scales (Trut, 1980a, 1980b; Kukekova et al., 2005). Furthermore, behavioral patterns characteristic of the founder populations become fragmented or reshuffled in the cross-breed offspring. Thus, before attempting to map or identify genes underlying behavioral variations segregating in these fox strains, we needed a high-resolution, objective, quantitative system that defined behavior of foxes from both the tame and aggressive strains, and that enabled assignment of behavioral phenotypes in both founder and experimental populations. In the current study we GDC-0941 supplier developed and tested a new system for assignment of fox behavioral phenotypes. To capture those fox behavioral components which had been selected for in the development of the founder populations, this new system is rooted in the traditional behavioral tests developed at ICG (Trut et al., 2004; Vasilieva and Trut, 1990). The behavior of the foxes was evaluated as in the traditional methods, and videotaped. A comprehensive primary set of binary (present, absent or yes, no) objective observations was then developed for scoring the physical manifestations of fox behavior during the test from video records. Statistical analyses, including principal-components analysis (PCA), were used to dissect out the independent, resegregating traits underlying the phenotypic variation expressed in these multiply correlated observations. To validate this new system for measuring behavior we evaluated the concordance between the ICG behavioral assignment and this new system. Moreover, a useful system for measuring behavior in experimental cross-bred pedigrees.