Monogamy may have a telltale signature of gene activity - Science Magazine Sciencemag.org - Mon 7 Jan 20:54 GMT
Animals that partner up share certain gene expression patterns
Now, an analysis of gene activity within the brains of frogs, rodents, fish, and birds suggests there may be a pattern common to monogamous creatures.
Despite very different brain structures and evolutionary histories, these animals all seem to have developed monogamy by turning on and off some of the same sets of genes.
Neuroscientist Hans Hofmann and evolutionary biologist Rebecca Young at the University of Texas in Austin wanted to explore how the regulation of genes in the brain might have changed when a nonmonogamous species evolved to become monogamous.
For example, the complex set of genes that underlie the ability to tolerate the presence of another member of one’s species presumably exists in nonmonogamous animals, but might be activated in different patterns to allow prolonged partnerships in monogamous ones.
And they ruled out other reasons why these monogamous animals might have similar gene expression patterns, including similar environments or close evolutionary relationships.