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Heritable variation in maternal yolk hormone transfer in a wild bird population


Tschirren, Barbara; Sendecka, Joanna; Groothuis, Ton; Gustafsson, Lars; Doligez, Blandine (2009). Heritable variation in maternal yolk hormone transfer in a wild bird population. The American Naturalist, 174(4):557-564.

Abstract

Differential reproductive investment by the mother can critically influence offspring development and phenotype, and strong selection is therefore expected to act on such maternal effects. Although a genetic basis is a prerequisite for phenotypic traits to respond to selection and thus to evolve, we still know very little about the extent of heritable variation in maternal effects in natural populations. Here, we present the first estimates of intrafemale repeatability across breeding seasons and estimates of heritability of hormone-mediated maternal effects in a wild population of collared flycatchers (Ficedula albicollis). We found that maternal yolk testosterone (T) concentrations, yolk mass, and egg mass were moderately to highly repeatable within females across years, whereas intrafemale consistency of maternal yolk androstenedione (A4) deposition was low yet statistically significant. Furthermore, maternal yolk T transfer, yolk mass, and egg mass were significantly heritable, whereas yolk A4 transfer was not. These results strongly suggest that two major maternal yolk androgens are differentially regulated by genes and the environment. Selection on heritable variation in maternal yolk T deposition has the potential to shape the rate and direction of phenotypic change in offspring traits and can thereby accelerate or impede the response to selection in natural populations.

Differential reproductive investment by the mother can critically influence offspring development and phenotype, and strong selection is therefore expected to act on such maternal effects. Although a genetic basis is a prerequisite for phenotypic traits to respond to selection and thus to evolve, we still know very little about the extent of heritable variation in maternal effects in natural populations. Here, we present the first estimates of intrafemale repeatability across breeding seasons and estimates of heritability of hormone-mediated maternal effects in a wild population of collared flycatchers (Ficedula albicollis). We found that maternal yolk testosterone (T) concentrations, yolk mass, and egg mass were moderately to highly repeatable within females across years, whereas intrafemale consistency of maternal yolk androstenedione (A4) deposition was low yet statistically significant. Furthermore, maternal yolk T transfer, yolk mass, and egg mass were significantly heritable, whereas yolk A4 transfer was not. These results strongly suggest that two major maternal yolk androgens are differentially regulated by genes and the environment. Selection on heritable variation in maternal yolk T deposition has the potential to shape the rate and direction of phenotypic change in offspring traits and can thereby accelerate or impede the response to selection in natural populations.

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39 citations in Web of Science®
40 citations in Scopus®
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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:07 Faculty of Science > Institute of Evolutionary Biology and Environmental Studies
Dewey Decimal Classification:570 Life sciences; biology
590 Animals (Zoology)
Language:English
Date:October 2009
Deposited On:19 Apr 2013 13:01
Last Modified:05 Apr 2016 16:44
Publisher:University of Chicago Press
ISSN:0003-0147
Funders:Janggen‐Pöhn Stiftung, Association for the Study of Animal Behaviour, Basler Stiftung für Biologische Forschung, Australian Research Council, Swiss National Science Foundation, French National Research Agency, French National Center for Scientific Research, British Ecological Society, Helge Ax:Son Johnsons Stiftelse, Zoologiska Stiftelse
Free access at:Publisher DOI. An embargo period may apply.
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1086/605379
Official URL:http://www.jstor.org/stable/10.1086/605379
Permanent URL: https://doi.org/10.5167/uzh-77395

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