Quantitative genomics of aggressive behavior in Drosophila melanogaster

PLoS Genet. 2006 Sep 15;2(9):e154. doi: 10.1371/journal.pgen.0020154. Epub 2006 Aug 2.


Aggressive behavior is important for animal survival and reproduction, and excessive aggression is an enormous social and economic burden for human society. Although the role of biogenic amines in modulating aggressive behavior is well characterized, other genetic mechanisms affecting this complex behavior remain elusive. Here, we developed an assay to rapidly quantify aggressive behavior in Drosophila melanogaster, and generated replicate selection lines with divergent levels of aggression. The realized heritability of aggressive behavior was approximately 0.10, and the phenotypic response to selection specifically affected aggression. We used whole-genome expression analysis to identify 1,539 probe sets with different expression levels between the selection lines when pooled across replicates, at a false discovery rate of 0.001. We quantified the aggressive behavior of 19 mutations in candidate genes that were generated in a common co-isogenic background, and identified 15 novel genes affecting aggressive behavior. Expression profiling of genetically divergent lines is an effective strategy for identifying genes affecting complex traits.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aggression*
  • Animals
  • Behavior, Animal*
  • DNA Transposable Elements / genetics
  • Drosophila melanogaster / genetics*
  • Drosophila melanogaster / physiology*
  • Genes, Insect
  • Genomics / methods*
  • Mutagenesis, Insertional
  • Phenotype
  • Selection, Genetic
  • Transcription, Genetic


  • DNA Transposable Elements

Associated data

  • GEO/GSE5405