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Bonobo personality traits are heritable and associated with vasopressin receptor gene 1a variation

Research output: Contribution to journalA1: Web of Science-article

Despite being closely related, bonobos and chimpanzees show remarkable behavioral differences, the proximate origins of which remain unknown. This study examined the link between behavioral variation and variation in the vasopressin 1a receptor gene (Avpr1a) in bonobos. Chimpanzees are polymorphic for a ~360 bp deletion (DupB), which includes a microsatellite (RS3) in the 5′ promoter region of Avpr1a. In chimpanzees, the DupB deletion has been linked to lower sociability, lower social sensitivity, and higher anxiety. Chimpanzees and bonobos differ on these traits, leading some to believe that the absence of the DupB deletion in bonobos may be partly responsible for these differences, and to the prediction that similar associations between Avpr1a genotypes and personality traits should be present in bonobos. We identified bonobo personality dimensions using behavioral measures (Sociability, Boldness, Openness, Activity) and trait ratings (Assertiveness, Conscientiousness, Openness, Agreeableness, Attentiveness, Extraversion). In the present study we found that all 10 dimensions have nonzero heritabilities, indicating there is a genetic basis to personality, and that bonobos are homozygous for shorter RS3 alleles were lower in AttentivenessR and higher in OpennessB. These results
suggest that variations in Avpr1a genotypes explain both within and between species differences in personality traits of bonobos and chimpanzees.
Original languageEnglish
JournalScientific Reports
Volume6
Issue number38193
ISSN2045-2322
StatePublished - 2016

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