Analysis across diverse fish species highlights no conserved transcriptome signature for proactive behaviour

Type Article
Date 2021-01
Language English
Author(s) Rey Sonia1, Jin Xingkun1, 2, 3, Damsgård Børge4, Begout Marie-LaureORCID5, Mackenzie SimonORCID1
Affiliation(s) 1 : Institute of Aquaculture, University of Stirling, Stirlingshire, FK9 4LA, UK
2 : Centre for Ecological and Evolutionary Synthesis (CEES), Department of Biosciences, University of Oslo, NO-0316, Oslo, Norway
3 : Institute of Marine Biology, College of Oceanography, Hohai University, Nanjing, 210098, China
4 : Faculty of Biosciences, Fisheries and Economics, UiT The Arctic University of Norway, 9037, Tromsø, Norway
5 : Ifremer, Place Gaby Coll, 17137 L’Houmeau, La Rochelle, France
Source Bmc Genomics (1471-2164) (Springer Science and Business Media LLC), 2021-01 , Vol. 22 , N. 1 , P. 33 (17p.)
DOI 10.1186/s12864-020-07317-z
WOS© Times Cited 2
Keyword(s) Proactive, Animal personality, RNA sequencing, Fish behaviour, Phenotype variation, Convergent evolution


Consistent individual differences in behaviour, known as animal personalities, have been demonstrated within and across species. In fish, studies applying an animal personality approach have been used to resolve variation in physiological and molecular data suggesting a linkage, genotype-phenotype, between behaviour and transcriptome regulation. In this study, using three fish species (zebrafish; Danio rerio, Atlantic salmon; Salmo salar and European sea bass; Dicentrarchus labrax), we firstly address whether personality-specific mRNA transcript abundances are transferrable across distantly-related fish species and secondly whether a proactive transcriptome signature is conserved across all three species.


Previous zebrafish transcriptome data was used as a foundation to produce a curated list of mRNA transcripts related to animal personality across all three species. mRNA transcript copy numbers for selected gene targets show that differential mRNA transcript abundance in the brain appears to be partially conserved across species relative to personality type. Secondly, we performed RNA-Seq using whole brains from S. salar and D. labrax scoring positively for both behavioural and molecular assays for proactive behaviour. We further enriched this dataset by incorporating a zebrafish brain transcriptome dataset specific to the proactive phenotype. Our results indicate that cross-species molecular signatures related to proactive behaviour are functionally conserved where shared functional pathways suggest that evolutionary convergence may be more important than individual mRNAs.


Our data supports the proposition that highly polygenic clusters of genes, with small additive effects, likely support the underpinning molecular variation related to the animal personalities in the fish used in this study. The polygenic nature of the proactive brain transcriptome across all three species questions the existence of specific molecular signatures for proactive behaviour, at least at the granularity of specific regulatory gene modules, level of genes, gene networks and molecular functions.

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File Pages Size Access
Publisher's official version 17 2 MB Open access
Additional file 1: Table S1. Individual Running number by behavioural and QPCR analyses 33 KB Open access
Additional file 2: Table S2. BLASTn results and primers for ALL QPCR 1 MB Open access
Additional file 3: Table S3. RNA samples pooling and bioanalyser report 1 MB Open access
Additional file 4: Table S4. Completeness assessment of transcriptome assembly by BUSCO and Transrate 23 KB Open access
Additional file 5: Table S5. Trinity assembly statistics 9 KB Open access
Additional file 6: Table S6. Global brain transcriptome comparisons genelist 1 MB Open access
Additional file 7; Table S7. Global brain transcriptome comparisons Pfam 531 KB Open access
Additional file 8: Table S8. DEG Spearman Correlation matrix 20 KB Open access
Additional file 9: Table S9. DEG list logFC & FDR 453 KB Open access
Additional file 10: Table S10. Shared by 3x Species Functional Groups with Genes 24 KB Open access
Additional file 11: Table S11. Shared by 2x Species Functional Groups with Genes 16 KB Open access
dditional file 12: Supporting Fig. 1-5 695 KB Open access
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