Genetic Conformity

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Science  15 Nov 2013:
Vol. 342, Issue 6160, pp. 778-779
DOI: 10.1126/science.342.6160.778-d

Fish who swim in schools find that doing so brings benefits and costs. On the positive side of the ledger, there is greater safety from predators in numbers, it's easier to find a mate, and swimming efficiency is enhanced; drawbacks include being vulnerable to fish harvesting. Comparing two populations of threespine sticklebacks—strongly schooling marine sticklebacks from Hokkaido, Japan, and benthic sticklebacks from Paxton Lake in British Columbia (a population that displays much weaker schooling inclination)—Greenwood et al. have identified two genomic regions that contribute to distinct dimensions of sociality. First, there is the tendency to swim with others, quantified on the basis of time spent in school, latency to enter school, and number of episodes. Second, individuals are constrained when schooling to swim in parallel to their neighbors, which was measured as relative orientation angle. Comparing the populations revealed that marine fish adopt parallel orientations more than the benthic fish. Prior work has shown that the sensory system for body position relies on the lateral line, a peripheral mechanoreceptive system, and the authors established a genetic link between schooling position and lateral line variation.

Curr. Biol. 23, 1884 (2013).

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