Elucidating the genetic mechanisms that underlie complex adaptive phenotypes is a central problem in evolutionary biology. For behavioral biologists, the ability to link variation in gene expression to the occurrence of specific behavioral traits has long been a largely unobtainable goal. Social interactions with conspecifics represent a fundamental component of the behavior of most animal species. Although several studies of mammals have attempted to uncover the genetic bases for social relationships using a candidate gene approach, none have attempted more comprehensive, transcriptome-based analyses using high throughout sequencing. As a first step toward improved understanding of the genetic underpinnings of mammalian sociality, we generated a reference transcriptome for the colonial tuco-tuco (Ctenomys sociabilis), a social species of subterranean rodent that is endemic to southwestern Argentina. Specifically, we analyzed over 500 million Illumina sequencing reads derived from the hippocampi of 10 colonial tuco-tucos housed in captivity under a variety of social conditions. The resulting reference transcriptome provides a critical tool for future studies aimed at exploring relationships between social environment and gene expression in this non-model species of social mammal.
MacManes, M. D., & Lacey, E. A. (2012). The Social Brain: Transcriptome Assembly and Characterization of the Hippocampus from a Social Subterranean Rodent, the Colonial Tuco-Tuco (Ctenomys sociabilis). PLoS ONE, 7(9). https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0045524