Aggression in non-human vertebrates: Genetic mechanisms and molecular pathways

Am J Med Genet B Neuropsychiatr Genet. 2016 Jul;171(5):603-40. doi: 10.1002/ajmg.b.32358. Epub 2015 Aug 18.


Aggression is an adaptive behavioral trait that is important for the establishment of social hierarchies and competition for mating partners, food, and territories. While a certain level of aggression can be beneficial for the survival of an individual or species, abnormal aggression levels can be detrimental. Abnormal aggression is commonly found in human patients with psychiatric disorders. The predisposition to aggression is influenced by a combination of environmental and genetic factors and a large number of genes have been associated with aggression in both human and animal studies. In this review, we compare and contrast aggression studies in zebrafish and mouse. We present gene ontology and pathway analyses of genes linked to aggression and discuss the molecular pathways that underpin agonistic behavior in these species. © 2015 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.

Keywords: gene ontology; mice; resident-intruder; zebrafish.

Publication types

  • Review
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aggression / physiology*
  • Aggression / psychology*
  • Animals
  • Behavior, Animal
  • Genotype
  • Humans
  • Mice / genetics
  • Social Behavior
  • Vertebrates
  • Zebrafish / genetics