Rey S, Boltana S, Vargas R, Roher N & MacKenzie S (2013) Combining animal personalities with transcriptomics resolves individual variation within a wild-type zebrafish population and identifies underpinning molecular differences in brain function. Molecular Ecology, 22 (24), pp. 6100-6115. https://doi.org/10.1111/mec.12556
Resolving phenotype variation within a population in response to environmental perturbation is central to understanding biological adaptation. Relating meaningful adaptive changes at the level of the transcriptome requires the identification of processes that have a functional significance for the individual. This remains a major objective towards understanding the complex interactions between environmental demand and an individual's capacity to respond to such demands. The interpretation of such interactions and the significance of biological variation between individuals from the same or different populations remain a difficult and under-addressed question. Here, we provide evidence that variation in gene expression between individuals in a zebrafish population can be partially resolved by a priori screening for animal personality and accounts for >9% of observed variation in the brain transcriptome. Proactive and reactive individuals within a wild-type population exhibit consistent behavioural responses over time and context that relates to underlying differences in regulated gene networks and predicted protein-protein interactions. These differences can be mapped to distinct regions of the brain and provide a foundation towards understanding the coordination of underpinning adaptive molecular events within populations.
Molecular Ecology: Volume 22, Issue 24