Two Genes Regulate Social Dominance
Rank in social hierarchy is a condition not solely claimed by humans. In the animal kingdom, male peacocks exhibit brightly colored plumes to illustrate dominance, and underwater, male fish show pops of bright colors to do the same. Despite the links identified between social status, physiology and behavior, the molecular basis of social status has not been known, until now.
“We discovered that two paralogous androgen receptor genes control social status in African cichlid fish,” reports Beau Alward in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Alward is an assistant professor of psychology at the University of Houston with a joint appointment in biology and biochemistry. Paralogs are duplicate genes; androgens are hormones like testosterone necessary for male sexual development.