Experimental demonstration that offspring fathered by old males have shorter telomeres and reduced lifespans

Noguera, J. C., Metcalfe, N. B. and Monaghan, P. (2018) Experimental demonstration that offspring fathered by old males have shorter telomeres and reduced lifespans. Proceedings of the Royal Society of London Series B: Biological Sciences, 285(1874), 20180268. (doi:10.1098/rspb.2018.0268) (PMID:29540524)

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Abstract

Offspring of older parents frequently show reduced longevity, but the mechanisms driving this so-called 'Lansing effect' are unknown. While inheritance of short telomeres from older parents could underlie this effect, studies to date in different species have found mixed results, reporting positive, negative or no association between parental age and offspring telomere length (TL). However, most of the existing evidence is from non-experimental studies in which it is difficult to exclude alternative explanations such as differential survival of parents with different telomere lengths. Here we provide evidence in the zebra finch that offspring from older parents have reduced lifespans. As a first step in disentangling possible causes, we used an experimental approach to examine whether or not we could detect pre-natal paternal effects on offspring TL. We found that zebra finch embryos fathered by old males have shorter telomeres than those produced by the same mothers but with younger fathers. Since variation in embryonic TL persists into post-natal life, and early life TL is predictive of longevity in this species, this experimental study demonstrates that a paternally driven pre-natal TL reduction could at least in part underlie the reduced lifespan of offspring from older parents.

Item Type:Articles
Additional Information:J.C.N. was funded by a Juan de la Cierva Fellowship (IJCI2014-20246) and N.B.M. and P.M. by two different ERC advanced grants (ref.: 322784 and 268926, respectively).
Keywords:Lansing effect, taeniopygia guttata, ageing, early development, paternal inheritance
Status:Published
Refereed:Yes
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Noguera, Dr Jose Carlos and Monaghan, Professor Patricia and Metcalfe, Professor Neil
Authors: Noguera, J. C., Metcalfe, N. B., and Monaghan, P.
College/School:College of Medical Veterinary and Life Sciences > Institute of Biodiversity Animal Health and Comparative Medicine
Journal Name:Proceedings of the Royal Society of London Series B: Biological Sciences
Publisher:The Royal Society
ISSN:0962-8452
ISSN (Online):1471-2954
Published Online:14 March 2018
Copyright Holders:Copyright © 2018 The Authors
First Published:First published in Proceedings of the Royal Society of London Series B: Biological Sciences 285(1874):20180268
Publisher Policy:Reproduced in accordance with the copyright policy of the publisher

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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/FP7-268926RI BIODIVERSITY ANIMAL HEALTH & COMPMED