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Bold, risk-taking animals have previously been putatively linked with a proactive stress coping style whereas it is suggested shyer, risk-averse animals exhibit a reactive coping style. The aim of this study was to investigate whether differences in the expression of bold-type behaviour were evident within and between two lines of rainbow trout, Oncorhynchus mykiss, selectively bred for a low (LR) or high (HR) endocrine response to stress, and to link boldness and stress responsiveness with the expression of related candidate genes. Boldness was determined in individual fish over two trials by measuring the latency to approach a novel object. Differences in plasma cortisol concentrations and the expression of eight novel candidate genes previously identified as being linked with divergent behaviours or stress were determined. Bold and shy individuals, approaching the object within 180 s or not approaching within 300 s respectively, were evident within each line, and this was linked with activity levels in the HR line. Post-stress plasma cortisol concentrations were significantly greater in the HR line compared with the LR line, and six of the eight tested genes were upregulated in the brains of LR fish compared with HR fish. However, no direct relationship between boldness and either stress responsiveness or gene expression was found, although clear differences in stress physiology and, for the first time, gene expression could be identified between the lines. This lack of correlation between physiological and molecular responses and behavioural variation within both lines highlights the complexity of the behavioural–physiological complex.


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