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Genes or culture: Are mitochondrial genes associated with tool use in bottlenose dolphins (tursiops sp.)?


Bacher, K; Allen, S; Lindholm, A K; Bejder, L; Krützen, M (2010). Genes or culture: Are mitochondrial genes associated with tool use in bottlenose dolphins (tursiops sp.)? Behavior Genetics, 40(5):706-7014.

Abstract

Some bottlenose dolphins use marine sponges as foraging tools (‘sponging’), which appears to be socially transmitted from mothers mainly to their female offspring. Yet, explanations alternative to social transmission have been proposed. Firstly, the propensity to engage in sponging might be due to differences in diving ability caused by variation of mitochondrial genes coding for proteins of the respiratory chain. Secondly, the cultural technique of sponging may have selected for changes in these same genes (or other autosomal ones) among its possessors. We tested whether sponging can be predicted by mitochondrial coding genes and whether these genes are under selection. In 29 spongers and 54 non-spongers from two study sites, the non-coding haplotype at the HVRI locus was a significant predictor of sponging, whereas the coding mitochondrial genes were not. There was no evidence of selection in the investigated genes. Our study shows that mitochondrial gene variation is unlikely to be a viable alternative to cultural transmission as a primary driver of tool use in dolphins.

Abstract

Some bottlenose dolphins use marine sponges as foraging tools (‘sponging’), which appears to be socially transmitted from mothers mainly to their female offspring. Yet, explanations alternative to social transmission have been proposed. Firstly, the propensity to engage in sponging might be due to differences in diving ability caused by variation of mitochondrial genes coding for proteins of the respiratory chain. Secondly, the cultural technique of sponging may have selected for changes in these same genes (or other autosomal ones) among its possessors. We tested whether sponging can be predicted by mitochondrial coding genes and whether these genes are under selection. In 29 spongers and 54 non-spongers from two study sites, the non-coding haplotype at the HVRI locus was a significant predictor of sponging, whereas the coding mitochondrial genes were not. There was no evidence of selection in the investigated genes. Our study shows that mitochondrial gene variation is unlikely to be a viable alternative to cultural transmission as a primary driver of tool use in dolphins.

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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:07 Faculty of Science > Institute of Evolutionary Biology and Environmental Studies
07 Faculty of Science > Department of Anthropology
Dewey Decimal Classification:570 Life sciences; biology
590 Animals (Zoology)
300 Social sciences, sociology & anthropology
Uncontrolled Keywords:bottlenose dolphin, tool use, sponging, mitochondrial genes, mitochondrial DNA
Language:English
Date:2010
Deposited On:15 Jul 2010 06:27
Last Modified:05 Apr 2016 14:11
Publisher:Springer
ISSN:0001-8244
Additional Information:The original publication is available at www.springerlink.com
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1007/s10519-010-9375-8
PubMed ID:20582623

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