Location: Reproduction ResearchTitle: Social environment influences the relationship between genotype and gene expression in wild baboons) Author
Submitted to: Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London. Series B, Biological Sciences
Publication Type: Peer reviewed journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 2/3/2013
Publication Date: 5/19/2013
Publication URL: http://handle.nal.usda.gov/10113/59664
Citation: Runcie, D.E., Wiedmann, R.T., Archie, E.A., Altmann, J., Wray, G.A., Alberts, S.C., Tung, J. 2013. Social environment influences the relationship between genotype and gene expression in wild baboons. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London. Series B, Biological Sciences. 368(1618):20120345. Interpretive Summary: Ninety-six baboons from the well-studied wild baboon population of the Amboseli basin were tested for genetic variation that influences gene expression, and for whether the impact of genetic variation on expression was influenced by the social environment. Combining decades’ worth of behavioral observations with state-of-the-art genetic and genomic methods produced evidence that genetic effects and the social environment can interact to shape gene expression patterns. In particular, dominance rank (e.g., social status), social connectedness, and social group size exhibited detectable gene-social environment interactions. These findings illustrate that nature and nurture both affect traits observed in social mammals, and improve our understanding of how complex social structures may have evolved.
Technical Abstract: Variation in the social environment can have profound effects on survival and reproduction in wild social mammals. However, we know little about the degree to which these effects are influenced by genetic differences among individuals, and, conversely, the degree to which social environmental variation mediates genetic reaction norms. To better understand these relationships, we investigated the potential for dominance rank, social connectedness, and group size to modify the effects of genetic variation on gene expression in the wild baboons of the Amboseli basin. We found evidence for a number of gene-environment interactions (GEIs) associated with variation in the social environment, encompassing social environments experienced in adulthood as well as persistent effects of early life social environment. Social connectedness, maternal dominance rank, and group size all interacted with genotype to influence gene expression in at least one sex, and either in early life or in adulthood. These results suggest that social and behavioral variation, akin to other factors such as age and sex, can impact the genotype-phenotype relationship. We conclude that GEIs mediated by the social environment are important in the evolution and maintenance of individual differences in wild social mammals, including individual differences in responses to social stressors.