Understanding the basis of behavior requires dissecting the complex waves of gene expression that underlie how the brain processes stimuli and produces an appropriate response. In order to determine the dynamic nature of the neurogenomic network underlying mate choice, we use transcriptome sequencing to capture the female neurogenomic response in two brain regions involved in sensory processing and decision-making under different mating and social contexts. We use differential coexpression (DC) analysis to evaluate how gene networks in the brain are rewired when a female evaluates attractive and nonattractive males, greatly extending current single-gene approaches to assess changes in the broader gene regulatory network. We find the brain experiences a remarkable amount of network rewiring in the different mating and social contexts we tested. Further analysis indicates the network differences across contexts are associated with behaviorally relevant functions and pathways, particularly learning, memory and other cognitive functions. Finally, we identify the loci that display social context-dependent connections, revealing the basis of how relevant neurological and metabolic pathways are differentially recruited in distinct social contexts. More broadly, our findings contribute to our understanding of the genetics of mating and social behavior by identifying gene drivers behind behavioral neural processes, illustrating the utility of DC analysis in neurosciences and behavior.
- differential network analysis
- gene networks
- mating behavior
- sensory processing
- social behavior