Skip to Main content Skip to Navigation
Journal articles

Serotonin transporter (SERT) polymorphisms, personality and problem-solving in urban great tits

Abstract : Understanding underlying genetic variation can elucidate how diversity in behavioral phenotypes evolves and is maintained. Genes in the serotonergic signaling pathway, including the serotonin transporter gene (SERT), are candidates for affecting animal personality, cognition and fitness. In a model species, the great tit (Parus major), we reevaluated previous findings suggesting relationships between SERT polymorphisms, neophobia, exploratory behavior and fitness parameters, and performed a first test of the relationship between single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) in SERT and problem-solving in birds. We found some evidence for associations between SERT SNPs and neophobia, exploratory behavior and laying date. Furthermore, several SNPs were associated with behavioral patterns and success rates during obstacle removal problem-solving tests performed at nest boxes. In females, minor allele homozygotes (AA) for nonsynonymous SNP226 in exon 1 made fewer incorrect attempts and were more likely to problem-solve. In both sexes, there was some evidence that minor allele homozygotes (CC) for SNP84 in exon 9 were more likely to problem-solve. Only one SNP-behavior relationship was statistically significant after correcting for multiple comparisons, but several were associated with substantial effect sizes. Our study provides a foundation for future research on the genetic basis of behavioral and cognitive variation in wild animal populations.
Document type :
Journal articles
Complete list of metadata
Contributor : Nathalie POTHIER Connect in order to contact the contributor
Submitted on : Wednesday, June 29, 2022 - 2:00:50 PM
Last modification on : Thursday, August 25, 2022 - 2:06:23 PM


Publisher files allowed on an open archive


Distributed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License




Andrea S. Grunst, Melissa L. Grunst, Nicky Staes, Bert Thys, Rianne Pinxten, et al.. Serotonin transporter (SERT) polymorphisms, personality and problem-solving in urban great tits. Scientific Reports, Nature Publishing Group, 2021, 11, ⟨10.1038/s41598-021-03466-7⟩. ⟨insu-03708694⟩



Record views


Files downloads