UNH Researchers Find that Gene Expression in Brain Regions of Doves Differs Between Males and Females

UNH Researchers Find that Gene Expression in Brain Regions of Doves Differs Between Males and Females

Jul 03, 2017

A new study by Matt MacManes, assistant professor in the Department of Molecular, Cellular and Biomedical Sciences, points to the importance of studying both males and females in experimental biology.

For decades, scientists have used mostly males as animal study subjects, assuming that, unless they’re specifically exploring reproduction or sexual behavior, males and females are basically the same. But MacManes’s study, published recently in the journal Scientific Reports, found large differences in tissue gene expression between male and female rock doves (Columba livia) even though they weren’t engaged in reproduction. Gene expression is the link between the genotype — the genetic makeup of an organism — and the phenotype, an organism’s appearance and behavior.

MacManes and his collaborators, including UNH Ph.D. student Andrew Lang and Rebecca Calisi of the University of California at Davis, thought that these brain regions in particular would look pretty much the same in non-reproductive birds. "What surprised us was the magnitude of these differences," said MacManes.

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