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Effect of wheat (Triticum aestivum L.) seed color and hardness genes on the consumption preference of the house mouse (Mus musculus L.)

Alecia M. Kiszonas, E. Patrick Fuerst, Luther Talbert, Jamie Sherman, Craig F. Morris
Mammalia 2016 v.80 no.6 pp. 655-662
Mus musculus, texture, pigmentation, hardness, seed predation, wheat, mice, genes, Triticum aestivum, color, seed coat, feeding preferences
Wheat (Triticum aestivum L.) seeds are a primary food of the house mouse (Mus musculus L.) in agricultural environments. Behavioral aspects of seed selection and consumption have not been fully characterized, especially with regards to seed traits that mice select for or against. The present study used a common strain of mice (C57BL/6J) to evaluate the effect of seed coat pigmentation and hardness (texture) on wheat seed selection and consumption. Wheat grains with contrasting traits were presented to mice in binary mixtures, similar to “two-choice” tests. Mice preferred wheat grain with fewer Red pigmentation genes (~ avoided grain with a greater number of Red genes). The mice were sensitive to small differences in grain texture, with softer texture consistently preferred. In summary, both seed color (pigmentation) and texture influence the selective consumption of wheat grain by C57BL/6J mice. Although the preference for softer texture and less pigmented grain is clear, other aspects of behavioral selection and consumption preference will require further study.