Journal of Animal Behaviour and Biometeorology
Journal of Animal Behaviour and Biometeorology
Research Article Open Access

Polymorphisms of the melatonin receptor 1A (MTNR1A) gene affect the sexual performance of Rasa Aragonesa rams without changing their social dominance

José-Alfonso Abecia, Andrea Heredia, Rosaura Pérez-Pe, Adriana Casao, Vincenzo Carcangiu, Maria Consuelo Mura, Genaro Miranda-de la Lama

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This study aimed to investigate whether a specific genotype of the MTNR1A gene influences social dominance and reproductive performance in rams. Thirty-one rams were genotyped for Rsal and Mnll polymorphism of the gene: CC (n=19), CT (n=5), and TT (n=7), and GG (n=20), GA (n=6), or AA (n=5), respectively. Maintenance (standing still, lying down, drinking, feeding, walking, or stereotyping) and social behavior (agonistic and antagonistic interactions among rams) were recorded by direct observations involving instantaneous scan sampling and continuous behavior sampling. For each animal, his Index of Success (IS) and Displacement (ID) were calculated. One week after the social-behavioral observations, rams were tested in individual serving-capacity tests involving three ewes that were synchronized into estrus in a 15-m2 pen for 20 min. The genotypes did not differ in the number of aggressions they performed (CC: 88.95±12.85; CT: 106.20±21.00; TT: 70.43±8.50; GG: 76.05±8.72; GA: 119.00±16.16; AA: 95.80±36.39) or received (CC:75.79±5.82; CT:92.40±8.68; TT: 86.14±15.05; GG: 79.25±6.58; GA: 86.83±11.51; AA: 79.80±12.74), and their active and passive behaviors were similar. The genotypes did not differ significantly in IS or ID, and the proportion of rams in each success category was similar among groups. For the Rsal and Mnll polymorphism, TT and GG rams were responsible for 54% and 56% of recorded sexual events (P < 0.05), respectively. Results of this study confirm that the best sexual performance of rams was among those that carried certain genotypes of the MTNR1A gene. Still, it was not correlated with differences in social dominance.


melatonin, receptor, sexual behavior, sheep, social dominance


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