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2019-01-07. Monogamy may have a telltale signature of gene activity.

posted Jan 12, 2019, 6:14 PM by Alan Gould
By Kelly Servick, Science Magazine. [https://www.sciencemag.org/news/2019/01/monogamy-may-have-telltale-signature-gene-activity] For GSS Losing Biodiversity chapter 4. Excerpt: In the animal world, monogamy has some clear perks. Living in pairs can give animals some stability and certainty in the constant struggle to reproduce and protect their young—which may be why it has evolved independently in various species. 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 hunt down a gene activity signature associated with monogamy in males across a wide variety of species—frogs, mice, voles, birds, and fish. So in each of these groups, they selected two species, one monogamous and one nonmonogamous. Rounding up the brains of those animals took an international team and years of effort. ...Back the lab, the researchers then grouped roughly comparable genes across all 10 species based on similarities in their sequences. For each of these cross-species gene groups, they measured activity based on how much the cells in the brain transcribed the DNA’s proteinmaking instructions into strands of RNA. Among the monogamous animals, a pattern emerged. The researchers found certain sets of genes were more likely to be “turned up” or “turned down” in those creatures than in the nonmonogamous species....