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article imageLab mice have 'lost' traits through domestication

By Tim Sandle     Aug 22, 2014 in Science
A study of laboratory bred mice has revealed that some behavioral traits, like female aggression, have been lost with domestication.
The laboratory mouse has long been used in laboratory experiments, especially in looking at the effects of physiology and disease. However, years of inbreeding have changed the animal from its wild ancestors, according to a new study.
Specifically, Science News reports, the laboratory mouse of today lacks some of the more aggressive behavioral traits that characterized its ancestors.
The behavioral differences between lab and wild mice was shown by breeding the two types for 10 generations. This allowed the researcher to characterize the specific behaviors that have been lost from today’s lab strains. The main difference was female aggression: female wild mice tend to lash out against pups that are not her own; whereas, female lab mice are often seen adopting and nursing stray pups.
Commenting on the research, Stephen Liberles, a cell biologist, said: "Lab mice are easy to work with and breed, relatively cheap and there are powerful genetic models, behavioral paradigms and sequenced genomes at our disposal. This study highlights the importance of considering the natural diversity of wild animal populations."
The findings have been published in the journal Nature Communications. The research is headed "Mapping ecologically relevant social behaviours by gene knockout in wild mice".
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