Certain animal behaviors can be explained by genetic factors but finding out the molecular mechanisms behind them is a lot more difficult. Understanding them can lead to knowledge about how behavior is controlled by genes, however.
In a recent study enabled by the SciLifeLab NGI, researchers from Linköping University, Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences and the University of Edinburg, investigated “tonic immobility”, a behavior where animals enter a natural state of paralysis to avoid predators, in chickens.
By mapping Quantitative Trait Loci (QTL), a segment of DNA containing multiple genes that can all be associated with a phenotype, the researchers identified five candidate genes in both domestic and wild chickens. Identifying the genes is a big step towards fully understanding the molecular mechanisms behind tonic immobility behavior.