The 5HTTLPR polymorphism in the promoter region of the human serotonin transporter (SLC6A4) gene is known to be associated with various stress-related psychological and psychiatric phenomena. We observed that a similar diallelic polymorphism in the orthologous gene of rhesus macaques (Macaca mulatta) was related to the reproductive life history of 580 males residing in the free-ranging colony of Cayo Santiago, Puerto Rico, between 1985 and 1998. At first glance, the polymorphism appeared to be selectively neutral because no difference in total reproductive output was noted between males of different 5HTTLPR genotypes. However, whereas heterozygotes were significantly more reproductive than homozygotes at intermediate age (10–13 yr), the opposite held true before and after this period (n = 682 offspring; randomization P = 0.014). This association, which explains approximately 7% of the observed variation in sire age, most likely reflects different natal dispersal patterns and represents the first reported instance of a genetic influence on reproductive timing in mammals.
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