Foraging is a goal-directed behaviour that balances the need to explore the environment for resources with the need to exploit those resources. In Drosophila melanogaster distinct phenotypes have been observed in relation to the foraging gene (for), labelled the rover and sitter. Adult rovers explore their environs more extensively than do adult sitters. We explored whether this distinction would be conserved in humans. We made use of a distinction from Regulatory Mode Theory between those who ‘get on with it’–so-called Locomotors, and those who prefer to ensure they ‘do the right thing’, so-called Assessors. In this logic, rovers and Locomotors share similarities in goal pursuit, as do sitters and Assessors. In two samples, we show that genetic variation in PRKG1, the human orthologue of for, is associated with preferential adoption of a specific regulatory mode. Next, participants performed a foraging task to see whether genetic differences associated with distinct regulatory modes would be associated with distinct goal pursuit patterns. Assessors tended to hug the boundary of the foraging environment, much like behaviours seen in Drosophila adult sitters. In a patchy foraging environment, Assessors adopted more cautious search strategies maximising exploitation. These results show that distinct patterns of goal pursuit are associated with particular genotypes of PRKG1, the human orthologue of for.
Bibliographical noteWe would like to thank Dr. Sara Mostafavi (University of British Columbia) for directing us to the CMC website regarding gene expression for rs13499 and for statistical advice. This work was supported by NSERC Discovery funds to JD and a Canadian Institute for Advanced Research award to MS.
- foraging gene
- Foraging gene