How Natural Genetic Variation Shapes Behavior

Natalie Niepoth, Andres Bendesky
2020 Annual review of genomics and human genetics (Print)  
Nervous systems allow animals to acutely respond and behaviorally adapt to changes and recurring patterns in their environment at multiple timescales—from milliseconds to years. Behavior is further shaped at intergenerational timescales by genetic variation, drift, and selection. This sophistication and flexibility of behavior makes it challenging to measure behavior consistently in individual subjects and to compare it across individuals. In spite of these challenges, careful behavioral
more » ... tions in nature and controlled measurements in the laboratory, combined with modern technologies and powerful genetic approaches, have led to important discoveries about the way genetic variation shapes behavior. A critical mass of genes whose variation is known to modulate behavior in nature is finally accumulating, allowing us to recognize emerging patterns. In this review, we first discuss genetic mapping approaches useful for studying behavior. We then survey how variation acts at different levels—in environmental sensation, in internal neuronal circuits, and outside the nervous system altogether—and then discuss the sources and types of molecular variation linked to behavior and the mechanisms that shape such variation. We end by discussing remaining questions in the field. Expected final online publication date for the Annual Review of Genomics and Human Genetics, Volume 21 is August 31, 2020. Please see for revised estimates.
doi:10.1146/annurev-genom-111219-080427 pmid:32283949 fatcat:makcsq7dznbi5cp6bktwm7saoi