Abstract # 3079 Poster # 175:

Scheduled for Sunday, September 18, 2011 07:00 PM-09:00 PM: Session 23 (Salon G (Sixth Floor)) Poster Presentation


N. Staes1,2, J. M. Stevens1,2 and M. Eens1
1University of Antwerp, Campus Drie Eiken, Universiteitsplein 1, Wilrijk B2610, USA, 2Centre for Research and Conservation, Royal Zoological Society of Antwerp

In humans, many studies have found relations between polymorphisms in the receptor and transporter genes of the neuropeptides oxytocin, vasopressin, dopamine and serotonin and various behavioural traits, such as altruism, cooperation, aggression, empathy, stress and fear. In common chimpanzees, polymorphisms in certain of these genes have been described. However, in apes it is unknown how variation in the receptor and transporter genes translates into behaviour. Information on polymorphisms in bonobos is much scarcer – although some reports have claimed that bonobos are more similar to humans, based on genetic information in only one or a few individual bonobos. Our current project aims to find the relation between these genes and behaviour in bonobos and chimpanzees. We want to quantify genetic variability within and between species, quantify behavioural variation in terms of personality and prosociality and relate differences in behaviour to differences in genes. The first step is to identify whether polymorphisms are present in bonobos for these genes. For this we set up a pilot study. We collected genetic material of 16 wild-born bonobos, as well as 5 individuals that were born in captivity, but are unrelated to the wild-born individuals. We identified polymorphisms through PCR, electrophoresis and sequencing. Identifying these polymorphisms provides us with a better view on the rapid evolution of such different behavioural systems in humans and their closest living relatives.