Foxes could be the next trend for pets, since scientists find genes related to aggression

The foxes could become essential pets of the future, after the scientists successfully isolated a portion of their genetic code related to meekness and aggression. Nicknamed SorCS1, eradicates the aggressive streak that persists in animals when they are raised in captivity

The foxes could become essential pets in the future, after the scientists successfully isolated a portion of their genetic code related to meekness and aggression, called SorCS1.

The study focused on the red fox, which has been bred by humans for more than a century, and found 103 genomic regions involved in fox behavior.

Experts say that understanding the link between genetics and behavior could help shed light on social behavior in other animals, including people.

These genetic markers are also associated with conditions of human behavior such as autism and bipolar disorder.

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The foxes could become essential pets of the future, after the scientists successfully isolated a portion of their genetic code related to meekness and aggression. Nicknamed SorCS1, eradicates the aggressive streak that persists in animals when they are raised in captivity

The foxes could become essential pets of the future, after the scientists successfully isolated a portion of their genetic code related to meekness and aggression. Nicknamed SorCS1, eradicates the aggressive streak that persists in animals when they are raised in captivity

Red foxes have been bred in some parts of the world but, unlike their dog cousins, captive foxes usually exhibit fear or aggression towards humans.

A 60-year study conducted by the Russian Institute of Cytology and Genetics has experimented with tame foxes and has established a docile and aggressive breed.

One group of animals is anxious about human interaction, while the other population has a tendency to behave violently with humans.

A third population of foxes acted as control and was not selected for any particular behavior.

"We've been waiting for this tool for a long, long time," says Anna Kukekova, assistant professor in the Animal Sciences Department at the University of Illinois and lead author of the article.

"In our previous work, we tried to identify regions of the fox genome responsible for domestic and aggressive behavior, but these studies required a reference genome and all we could use was the dog's genome.

"For us, the fox genome provides a much better resource for genetic analysis of behavior."

The researchers sequenced the genomes of 10 individuals from each population, then compared them to the complete genome of the fox and each other.

They identify 103 genomic regions that were changed by the selective breeding program.

The study focused on the red fox, which has been bred by humans for more than a century, and found 103 genomic regions involved in fox behavior. Experts say that understanding the link between genetics and behavior could help shed light on social behavior in other animals

The study focused on the red fox, which has been bred by humans for more than a century, and found 103 genomic regions involved in fox behavior. Experts say that understanding the link between genetics and behavior could help shed light on social behavior in other animals

The study focused on the red fox, which has been bred by humans for more than a century, and found 103 genomic regions involved in fox behavior. Experts say that understanding the link between genetics and behavior could help shed light on social behavior in other animals

WHEN DID PEOPLE BEGIN TO MAINTAIN ANIMALS AS PETS?

Pets have been companions of humans for millennia.

In fact, according to Greger Larson, director of the research network in paleogenomics and bioarchaeology at the University of Oxford, it is likely that humans have saved baby animals to entertain them while humans have lived.

But the story of how animals were domesticated is debated a lot and often only glimpsed from fossil remains and DNA.

Scientists agree that dogs were the first domestic animal. They were domesticated and used for work or for their meat.

A study published by researchers at the University of Maine in 2011 found evidence that dogs were bred and eaten by humans who lived in Texas about 9,400 years ago.

A more recent study in 2017 found that dogs were domesticated in a single event by humans living in Eurasia.

Dr. Krishna Veeramah, assistant professor of evolution at Stony Brook University, told MailOnline: "We have found clear evidence that dogs were domesticated 20,000 or 40,000 years ago.

"A new investigation last year suggested provocatively that dogs could have been domesticated twice, but our conclusion was that there is no evidence of dual domestication.

"We argue that finding evidence for a single domestication event is a big problem, because it is very important to help us understand how domestication works."

His research found that dogs evolved to be a separate species from wild wolves sometime between 20,000 and 40,000 years ago.

But it is not known if they were the first pets and they were kept as companions.

A study this year found that the genomes, or complete genetic codes, of modern domestic and wild rabbits were compared to see how long it had taken them to diverge.

Using the known mutation rate of certain biomolecules as a "molecular clock" they discovered that it was not possible to define the domestication of the rabbit in a single date or event.

In contrast, the creation of domesticated buns seems to be a cumulative effect that dates back to Roman times and possibly to the Stone Age.

The history of domestication is not a linear progression from the wild to the domestic, Larsen told the Smithsonian.

"These things exist on a continuum," says Larson. He said that when the first pet was born it is "a bit like asking when life began."

Some of these genetic markers turned out to be responsible for the domesticated and aggressive behaviors exhibited in the different groups of foxes.

"Finding genomic regions with such resolution was beyond any expectation with our previous tools.

"Now, for the first time, we could not only identify part of a chromosome that makes foxes more docile or aggressive, but we could identify the specific genes responsible for it," says Dr. Kukekova.

It is also known that some of the genomic regions are associated with human conditions and behaviors.

One of 103 is associated with the Williams-Beuren syndrome, a genetic disorder characterized by an extremely outgoing and friendly behavior.

"Oddly enough, we found the Williams-Beuren region in aggressive, undomesticated foxes, we thought it would be the opposite," says Dr. Kukekova.

It is also known that some of the genomic regions are associated with human conditions and behaviors. Expert knowledge about these genetic markers could be used to help treat conditions of human behavior, such as autism and bipolar disorder

It is also known that some of the genomic regions are associated with human conditions and behaviors. Expert knowledge about these genetic markers could be used to help treat conditions of human behavior, such as autism and bipolar disorder

It is also known that some of the genomic regions are associated with human conditions and behaviors. Expert knowledge about these genetic markers could be used to help treat conditions of human behavior, such as autism and bipolar disorder

SorCS1 participates in the formation and operation of synapses, the small gap between two neurons in the brain, and was clearly associated with very specific behavior in foxes

SorCS1 participates in the formation and operation of synapses, the small gap between two neurons in the brain, and was clearly associated with very specific behavior in foxes

SorCS1 participates in the formation and operation of synapses, the small gap between two neurons in the brain, and was clearly associated with very specific behavior in foxes

The mysterious finding exemplifies that much more research is needed to understand these genetic regions and how they work in different animals.

SorCS1 participates in the formation and operation of synapses, the small gap between two neurons in the brain, and was clearly associated with a very specific behavior in foxes.

Human handlers interact with foxes in a very controlled manner as part of their fox behavior assessments recorded on video.

The manipulators stand near the enclosures for a minute, hold the door open for another minute, reach the fox for a third minute, then close the door and stand near the cabinet for a final minute.

A group of foxes cried out for greater human interaction after being left alone and this population had a version of the SorCS1 gene not found in the aggressive population.

"We believe that this gene makes foxes more docile, but we do not want to exaggerate, meekness is not associated with a single gene."

"The image is definitely more complex," says Dr. Kukekova.

The research was published in the journal Nature Ecology and Evolution.

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