Behavioural and physiological responses to stressors in sheep with temperament classified by genotype or phenotype

Yuri Kitagawa, Shane K. Maloney, Kelsey R. Pool, Dane Webster, Satoshi Ohkura, Dominique Blache, Luoyang Ding

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) rs107856856, located in the tryptophan hydroxylase-2 gene, is associated with the behavioural phenotype for sheep temperament measured at weaning. Here, we tested the association between that SNP and physiological and behavioural responses to stressors in adult sheep. Two groups of adult sheep, one with genotype A/A (calm genotype) and the other with G/G (nervous genotype) in rs107856856, were selected from 160 sheep and were exposed, twice, to an open-field arena and an isolation box test (IBT). During each repeat, the behaviour and physiological responses (cortisol, prolactin, dehydroepiandrosterone [DHEA], brain derived neurotrophic factor [BDNF], characteristics of the response of body temperature, and oxidative stress) were measured. The behavioural and physiological responses of the sheep were compared between genotypes and also between groups classified on their phenotype as assessed by their initial isolation box score (“low responders” and “high responders”). The SNP rs107856856 had some effects on the behavioural phenotype (IBT score) but no effects on the physiological response to stress (cortisol, prolactin, DHEA, BDNF, oxidative stress or changes in body temperature) in the adult sheep, probably because the sheep were exposed, and therefore had adapted, to human contact during their life.

Original languageEnglish
Article number8147
JournalScientific Reports
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 8 Apr 2024


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