The domesticated brain: genetics of brain mass and brain structure in an avian species.

Henriksen R, Johnsson M, Andersson L, Jensen P, Wright D

Sci Rep 6 (1) 34031 [2016-09-30; online 2016-09-30]

As brain size usually increases with body size it has been assumed that the two are tightly constrained and evolutionary studies have therefore often been based on relative brain size (i.e. brain size proportional to body size) rather than absolute brain size. The process of domestication offers an excellent opportunity to disentangle the linkage between body and brain mass due to the extreme selection for increased body mass that has occurred. By breeding an intercross between domestic chicken and their wild progenitor, we address this relationship by simultaneously mapping the genes that control inter-population variation in brain mass and body mass. Loci controlling variation in brain mass and body mass have separate genetic architectures and are therefore not directly constrained. Genetic mapping of brain regions indicates that domestication has led to a larger body mass and to a lesser extent a larger absolute brain mass in chickens, mainly due to enlargement of the cerebellum. Domestication has traditionally been linked to brain mass regression, based on measurements of relative brain mass, which confounds the large body mass augmentation due to domestication. Our results refute this concept in the chicken.

NGI Uppsala (SNP&SEQ Technology Platform) [Service]

National Genomics Infrastructure [Service]

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PubMed 27687864

DOI 10.1038/srep34031

Crossref 10.1038/srep34031

pmc: PMC5043184
pii: srep34031