Genes involved in the process of memory formation have been studied intensively in model organisms; however, little is known about the mechanisms that are responsible for natural variation in memory dynamics. There is substantial variation in memory retention among closely related species in the parasitic wasp genus Nasonia. After a single olfactory conditioning trial, N. vitripennis consolidates long-term memory that lasts at least 6 days. Memory of the closely related species N. giraulti is present at 24 h but is lost within 2 days after a single trial. The genetic basis of this interspecific difference in memory retention was studied in a backcrossing experiment in which the phenotype of N. giraulti was selected for in the background of N. vitripennis for up to five generations. A genotyping microarray revealed five regions that were retained in wasps with decreased memory retention. Independent introgressions of individual candidate regions were created using linked molecular markers and tested for memory retention. One region on chromosome 1 (spanning ~5.8 cM) and another on chromosome 5 (spanning ~25.6 cM) resulted in decreased memory after 72 h, without affecting 24-h-memory retention. This phenotype was observed in both heterozygous and homozygous individuals. Transcription factor CCAAT/enhancer-binding protein and a dopamine receptor, both with a known function in memory formation, are within these genomic regions and are candidates for the regulation of memory retention. Concluding, this study demonstrates a powerful approach to study variation in memory retention and provides a basis for future research on its genetic basis.
|Early online date||23 Jul 2014|
|Publication status||Published - 2014|