Embryonic and postnatal telomere length decrease with ovulation order within clutches

Noguera, J. C., Metcalfe, N. , Reichert, S. and Monaghan, P. (2016) Embryonic and postnatal telomere length decrease with ovulation order within clutches. Scientific Reports, 6, p. 25915. (doi: 10.1038/srep25915) (PMID:27174767) (PMCID:PMC4865837)

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Telomere length (TL) in early life has been found to be predictive of subsequent lifespan. Factors such as parental TL, parental age and environmental conditions during development have been shown to contribute to the observed variation in TL among individuals. One factor that has not hitherto been considered is ovulation order, although it is well established that the last hatched/born offspring in a brood or litter often show relatively poor subsequent performance. We examined the within- and across-clutch effect of ovulation order on TL in embryos of zebra finches experiencing the same controlled incubation conditions (N = 151), and tested whether any such ovulation order effects remained detectable in adults (N = 122). Irrespective of clutch and egg size, TL in early-stage embryos (72 h incubation) markedly decreased with within-clutch ovulation order; the difference in TL of first and last-laid embryos was equivalent to the average within-individual telomere loss over the entire period of nestling and juvenile life. This ovulation-order effect occurred only within but not across clutches, and was still evident in adults. Given that TL in early life predicts lifespan, our results suggest that parental effects on telomere length could contribute to the known poor performance of later-ovulated family members.

Item Type:Articles
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Monaghan, Professor Pat and Noguera, Dr Jose Carlos and Metcalfe, Professor Neil and Reichert, Dr Sophie
Authors: Noguera, J. C., Metcalfe, N., Reichert, S., and Monaghan, P.
College/School:College of Medical Veterinary and Life Sciences > School of Biodiversity, One Health & Veterinary Medicine
Journal Name:Scientific Reports
Publisher:Nature Publishing Group
ISSN (Online):2045-2322
Published Online:13 May 2016
Copyright Holders:Copyright © 2016 Nature Publishing Group
First Published:First published in Scientific Reports 6:25915
Publisher Policy:Reproduced under a Creative Commons License

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Project CodeAward NoProject NamePrincipal InvestigatorFunder's NameFunder RefLead Dept
545091ECOTELO - The ecological significance of telomere dynamics:environments, individuals and inheritancePatricia MonaghanEuropean Research Council (ERC)20100317/FP7-26RI BIODIVERSITY ANIMAL HEALTH & COMPMED