Vol 8, Issue 2, May 2021

Exploring the Relationship Between Boldness, Activity, Exploration and Monoaminergic Gene Expression in Red Junglefowl Chicks


Lundgren, K.A., Gómez Dunlop, C.A., Garnham, L.C., Ryding, S., Abbey-Lee, R.N., Kreshchenko, A., & Løvlie, H. (2021). Exploring the relationship between boldness, activity, exploration and monoaminergic gene expression in red junglefowl chicks.  Animal Behavior and Cognition, 8(2), 124-137.  https://doi.org/10.26451/abc.


Why individuals differ in behavioral responses has received intense research attention (particularly in the context of animal personality), and has typically focused on describing variation in boldness, activity, and exploration. Nevertheless, the mechanisms underlying this behavioral variation remain largely unknown. Variation in these behaviors is likely influenced by genetic differences between individuals, with genes in the monoaminergic systems commonly implicated. When examining the link between variation in boldness, activity and exploration and genes, studies have focused on different monoaminergic systems (mainly serotonergic and dopaminergic), and predominantly on mammals and passerine birds. Therefore, to replicate this general approach and examine if genes from these systems are linked to boldness, activity, and exploration, we exposed red junglefowl chicks (Gallus gallus) to behavioral assays (measuring boldness, activity, exploration) before analyzing prefrontal cortex gene expression of several dopaminergic (DRD1, DRD2) and serotonergic genes (TPH, 5HT2A, 5HT2B, 5HT2C, 5HT1B). We observed no relationships between our measured behaviors and gene expression. Together with previous studies, our results suggest that a clear link between boldness, activity and exploration and monoaminergic gene variation is lacking. We, therefore, suggest that this is due to differences among studies (e.g., methodological differences), or that the nature of the relationship between these behaviors and monoaminergic systems is more species-specific, and/or more complex than so far assumed.


Activity, Animal behavior, Boldness, Exploration, Dopamine, Gallus gallus, Serotonin