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Differential effects of maternal yolk androgens on male and female offspring: a role for sex-specific selection?


Tschirren, Barbara (2015). Differential effects of maternal yolk androgens on male and female offspring: a role for sex-specific selection? PLoS ONE, 10(7):e0133673.

Abstract

Maternal hormones are important mediators of prenatal maternal effects in animals. Although their effects on offspring phenotype are often sex-specific, the reason why sometimes sons are more sensitive to prenatal hormone exposure and sometimes daughters is not well understood. Here I combine an experimental manipulation of yolk testosterone concentration in the egg and quantification of selection acting on yolk androgen-sensitive traits in a natural population of great tits (Parus major) with a literature review to test the hypothesis that sex-specific selection on traits affected by yolk androgens determines which sex is more sensitive to prenatal hormone exposure. An experimental increase of the testosterone content in the egg boosted the post-hatching growth of male, but not female great tit nestlings. However, I found no evidence that survival selection on body mass or size is acting differently in the two sexes. A literature review revealed that yolk androgen manipulations affect the growth of males and females differently across species. Interestingly, in studies performed in the wild a significant association between the strength and direction of sexual size dimorphism and sex-specific sensitivities to yolk androgens was observed. In studies performed in captivity, no such relationship was found. Thus, across species there is some evidence that sex-specific selection on body size influences how strongly growth trajectories of males and females are affected by maternally-derived yolk androgens.

Abstract

Maternal hormones are important mediators of prenatal maternal effects in animals. Although their effects on offspring phenotype are often sex-specific, the reason why sometimes sons are more sensitive to prenatal hormone exposure and sometimes daughters is not well understood. Here I combine an experimental manipulation of yolk testosterone concentration in the egg and quantification of selection acting on yolk androgen-sensitive traits in a natural population of great tits (Parus major) with a literature review to test the hypothesis that sex-specific selection on traits affected by yolk androgens determines which sex is more sensitive to prenatal hormone exposure. An experimental increase of the testosterone content in the egg boosted the post-hatching growth of male, but not female great tit nestlings. However, I found no evidence that survival selection on body mass or size is acting differently in the two sexes. A literature review revealed that yolk androgen manipulations affect the growth of males and females differently across species. Interestingly, in studies performed in the wild a significant association between the strength and direction of sexual size dimorphism and sex-specific sensitivities to yolk androgens was observed. In studies performed in captivity, no such relationship was found. Thus, across species there is some evidence that sex-specific selection on body size influences how strongly growth trajectories of males and females are affected by maternally-derived yolk androgens.

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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)
Uncontrolled Keywords:Androgens Testosterone Sexual dimorphism Birds Natural selection Physiological parameters Sex hormones Bird physiology
Language:English
Date:20 July 2015
Deposited On:23 Dec 2015 10:40
Last Modified:08 Dec 2017 16:13
Publisher:Public Library of Science (PLoS)
ISSN:1932-6203
Funders:Swiss National Science Foundation
Free access at:Publisher DOI. An embargo period may apply.
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0133673

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