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Review article - Peer-reviewed, 2024

Mitochondrial genetic variation as a potential mediator of intraspecific behavioural diversity

Brand, Jack A.; Garcia-Gonzalez, Francisco; Dowling, Damian K.; et al.; et al.


Mitochondrial genes play an essential role in energy metabolism. Variation in the mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) sequence often exists within species, and this variation can have consequences for energy production and organismal life history. Yet, despite potential links between energy metabolism and the expression of animal behaviour, mtDNA variation has been largely neglected to date in studies investigating intraspecific behavioural diversity. We outline how mtDNA variation and interactions between mitochondrial and nuclear genotypes may contribute to the expression of individual-to-individual behavioural differences within populations, and why such effects may lead to sex differences in behaviour. We contend that integration of the mitochondrial genome into behavioural ecology research may be key to fully understanding the evolutionary genetics of animal behaviour.


animal personality; behavioural syndromes; mito-nuclear interactions; mother’s curse; pace-of-life syndrome; sexual dimorphism

Published in

Trends in ecology & evolution
2024, Volume: 39, number: 2, pages: 199-212

    UKÄ Subject classification

    Evolutionary Biology

    Publication identifier


    Permanent link to this page (URI)