One of the major area of genetics, which also requires interaction with social sciences, is described as behavioural genetics, where genes have to interact with the environment to produce a particular pattern of behaviour. A number of behaviour genes have been identified in Drosophila involving locomotion (mutants described as sluggish, non-climbing, flightless, easily shocked, etc.) or the sexual behaviour. Similar genes for behaviour may occur in mammals including humans Recently in humans, while studying control of I.Q. (intelligence quotient), it was shown that intelligence is governed by genetics (parentage), environment (adopted parents) and developmental stage (age) of an individual. If there are differences in behaviour governed by genotype as above, this will also lead to differences in the inherent ability to perform well in doing a job. If this is so, this needs to be discussed among social scientists and even among policy makers, who may need to take the inherent differences into consideration when they accept the principle of equal opportunities for all citizens or reservation in jobs for a certain section of society.
Behavioural genetics and neuroscience, animal behaviour, rodents and fish
The ultimate goal of behaviour genetics is to understand how genes influence brain function and behaviour. This exciting but rather complex problem is broken down to manageable scientific questions in Prof. Gerlai's laboratory. Using zebra fish as a model system, the laboratory will be screening for behaviourally interesting mutants generated by chemical mutagenesis, an approach called forward genetics. Once found, these mutants will allow the identification of novel genes involved in learning and memory, social behaviours, and alcohol related behaviours. Given the high sequence homology between zebra fish and human genes, these findings may lead to better understanding of the biological mechanisms of not only zebra fish behaviour but of human brain related diseases too. The first step in this quest is the establishment of reliable behavioural tests of zebra fish, an almost entirely uncharted territory. Students will have the opportunity to develop novel behavioural screening methods and to behaviourally characterize this species for the first time. They will also learn to employ chemical mutagenesis, and identify novel mutants. Ultimately, students will find the mutated genes using genetic marker aided positional cloning techniques. The laboratory at this point is seeking students who are interested, and/or have experience, in behavioural testing of fish and who will enjoy creatively designing novel behavioural paradigms