Data from: Adaptive developmental plasticity in rhesus macaques: the serotonin transporter gene interacts with maternal care to affect juvenile social behaviour
Madrid, Jesus E. et al. (2018), Data from: Adaptive developmental plasticity in rhesus macaques: the serotonin transporter gene interacts with maternal care to affect juvenile social behaviour, Dryad, Dataset, https://doi.org/10.5061/dryad.t285760
Research has increasingly highlighted the role that developmental plasticity-the ability of a particular genotype to produce variable phenotypes in response to different early environments-plays as an adaptive mechanism. One of the most widely studied genetic contributors to developmental plasticity in humans and rhesus macaques is a serotonin transporter gene-linked polymorphic region (5-HTTLPR), which determines transcriptional efficiency of the serotonin transporter gene in-vitro and modifies the availability of synaptic serotonin in these species. A majority of studies to date have shown that carriers of a loss-of-function variant of the 5-HTTLPR, the short (s) allele, develop a stress-reactive phenotype in response to adverse early environments compared to long (l) allele homozygotes, leading to the prevalent conceptualization of the s-allele as a vulnerability allele. However, this framework fails to address the independent evolution of these loss-of-function mutations in both humans and macaques as well as the high population prevalence of s-alleles in both species. Here we show in free-ranging rhesus macaques that s-allele carriers benefit more from supportive early social environments than l-allele homozygotes, such that s-allele carriers which receive higher levels of maternal protection during infancy demonstrate greater social competence later in life. These findings provide the first empirical support for the assertion that the s-allele grants high undirected biological sensitivity to context in primates and suggest a mechanism through which the 5-HTTLPR s-allele is maintained in primate populations.