Evolutionary genomics of animal personality

K. Van Oers, J.C. Mueller

Research output: Contribution to journal/periodicalArticleScientificpeer-review


Research on animal personality can be approached from both a phenotypic and a genetic perspective. While using a phenotypic approach one can measure present selection on personality traits and their combinations. However, this approach cannot reconstruct the historical trajectory that was taken by evolution. Therefore, it is essential for our understanding of the causes and consequences of personality diversity to link phenotypic variation in personality traits with polymorphisms in genomic regions that code for this trait variation. Identifying genes or genome regions that underlie personality traits will open exciting possibilities to study natural selection at the molecular level, gene–gene and gene–environment interactions, pleiotropic effects and how gene expression shapes personality phenotypes. In this paper, we will discuss how genome information revealed by already established approaches and some more recent techniques such as high-throughput sequencing of genomic regions in a large number of individuals can be used to infer micro-evolutionary processes, historical selection and finally the maintenance of personality trait variation. We will do this by reviewing recent advances in molecular genetics of animal personality, but will also use advanced human personality studies as case studies of how molecular information may be used in animal personality research in the near future.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3991-4000
JournalPhilosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences
Issue number1560
Publication statusPublished - 2010


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