Zebrafish Testing Identifies a Gene Potentially at the Root of Domestication
Published:11 Jan.2023    Source:ScienceDaily

Researchers at Queen Mary University of London have shown that zebrafish can provide genetic baz1b clues to the evolution of social behaviours in humans and domesticated species.The research, published in iScience, looked at genetically modified zebrafish that fail to make the baz1b protein. The results suggest the gene is not only at the cornerstone of physical and behavioural changes in the fish and other domesticated species, but potentially also human beings' social relationships.

The research led by the Queen Mary team builds on this by studying the impact of removing baz1b gene function, and the impact of doing so on neural crest development and social behaviour. The mutant zebrafish studied were found to be more socially prone than their counterparts with functional baz1b. They showed an increased tendency to interact with members of the same species, although the differences between the two types of zebrafish were no longer observable once the fish were three weeks old.
As well as being more sociable, the mutant zebrafish showed distinctive facial changes in later life. These included altered eye length and width, a protruding forehead, and a shorter snout. This was accompanied by reduced anxiety-associated behaviours.The research determined that in zebrafish the baz1b gene impacts both morphological and behavioural characteristics associated with the domestication syndrome in other species.