Journal article

The genetics of social hierarchies

The organization of individuals in social hierarchies is ubiquitous in social species. Although the evolution of dominance at the population level is constrained by its interactive character, selective breeding shows that dominance and subordination can be rapidly inherited. Genes involved in the expression of social dominance are starting to be identified. Evidence from behavioral genetics and genetic association studies points at a role for allelic variation in the dopamine and serotonin transporters, vasopressin receptor 1A, and the transcriptional regulator MECP2. The allelic frequency of the serotonin transporter was also linked to cultural differences in acceptance of social hierarchy values. Candidate genes for future association studies are imprinted genes and genes involved in energy metabolism recently identified in genetic studies in animals.


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