Male attractiveness regulates daughter fecundity non-genetically via maternal investment

Gilbert, L. , Williamson, K. A. and Graves, J. A. (2012) Male attractiveness regulates daughter fecundity non-genetically via maternal investment. Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences, 279(1728), pp. 523-528. (doi: 10.1098/rspb.2011.0962) (PMID:21733898) (PMCID:PMC3234556)

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Mothers can non-genetically influence offspring phenotype in response to environmental conditions, including mate attractiveness. If such ‘maternal effects’ influence the offspring's reproduction and F2 generation, there is a mechanism for non-genetic trans-generational effects on phenotype, including epigenetic phenomena, with implications for evolution and population dynamics. We demonstrate in the zebra finch Taeniopygia guttata such non-genetic effects on offspring fecundity and the size of early stage F2 (eggs) in response to experimentally manipulated father's attractiveness. Our experimental design allowed us to deduce that the mechanism for this non-genetic paternal effect was via maternal investment in eggs. This affected female offspring size and, consequently, fecundity and F2 (egg) size. This demonstrates that female perception of mate attractiveness can have non-genetic, trans-generational fitness consequences and this may have important implications for the evolution of sexually selected traits and population dynamics.

Item Type:Articles
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Gilbert, Dr Lucy
Authors: Gilbert, L., Williamson, K. A., and Graves, J. A.
College/School:College of Medical Veterinary and Life Sciences > Institute of Biodiversity Animal Health and Comparative Medicine
Journal Name:Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences
Publisher:Royal Society
ISSN (Online):1471-2954
Published Online:06 July 2011

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