A mutation in the TSHR gene - how does it affect social and fear related behaviours in chickens?
Thyroid hormones are well known important to be in development and growth in birds and that signaling of thyrotropin (TSH) regulates the photo induced seasonal reproduction. A mutation at the thyroid stimulating hormone receptor (TSHR) gene in domestic breeds of chicken could be involved in the release of the photoperiodic regulation. Furthermore, TSH can affect a wide range of domestication related phenotypes, such as behaviour, growth rate and pigmentation. The aim of this study was to investigate the behaviours expressed in the different genotypes on the TSHR gene in chickens. Four standard tests were conducted, aerial predator, fear of human, social dominance and tonic immobility. An advanced intercross line of chickens between red junglefowl and White leghorn was used. Male domestic type chickens explored more, showed more less fear behaviours and showed least fear behaviours in the fear of human test. Increased activity and flight response has been interpreted as a lower fear response, which is in line with this study. The wild type chickens showed more social dominance than domestic type chickens which are in line with previous results. In tonic immobility there was a difference between the wild type male and heterozygous male chickens in latency until first head movement. The conclusion of this study is that there is a difference between the wild type and domestic type chickens. This indicates that the TSHR gene is involved in behavioural changes during domestication, but whether it is due to passive or active selection is the question.
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