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Long-term effect of yolk carotenoid levels on testis size in a precocial bird


Giraudeau, Mathieu; Ziegler, Ann-Kathrin; Tschirren, Barbara (2016). Long-term effect of yolk carotenoid levels on testis size in a precocial bird. Biology Letters, 12(4):20160008.

Abstract

Conditions experienced during prenatal development can have long-lasting organizational effects on offspring. Maternal carotenoids deposited in the eggs of birds and other oviparous species play an important role during fast embryonic growth and chick development through their antioxidant properties. However, the long-term consequences of variation in maternal carotenoid transfer for the offspring have seldom been considered. Since plasma carotenoid levels at adulthood are known to influence testis size and yolk carotenoid levels influence the ability to extract carotenoids later in life, we hypothesized that maternally transmitted carotenoids might influence gonad size at adulthood. Here, we showed that male Japanese quail (Coturnix japonica) originating from a carotenoid-enriched egg had smaller testes than control individuals at adulthood. This result shows that yolk carotenoids have long-term organizational effects. In addition, given that carotenoid intake at sexual maturity increases sperm quality and that a decreased testis size is associated with a lower sperm production, we propose that carotenoid exposure during embryo development might influence a trade-off between ejaculate size and sperm quality.

Abstract

Conditions experienced during prenatal development can have long-lasting organizational effects on offspring. Maternal carotenoids deposited in the eggs of birds and other oviparous species play an important role during fast embryonic growth and chick development through their antioxidant properties. However, the long-term consequences of variation in maternal carotenoid transfer for the offspring have seldom been considered. Since plasma carotenoid levels at adulthood are known to influence testis size and yolk carotenoid levels influence the ability to extract carotenoids later in life, we hypothesized that maternally transmitted carotenoids might influence gonad size at adulthood. Here, we showed that male Japanese quail (Coturnix japonica) originating from a carotenoid-enriched egg had smaller testes than control individuals at adulthood. This result shows that yolk carotenoids have long-term organizational effects. In addition, given that carotenoid intake at sexual maturity increases sperm quality and that a decreased testis size is associated with a lower sperm production, we propose that carotenoid exposure during embryo development might influence a trade-off between ejaculate size and sperm quality.

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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:2016
Deposited On:20 Oct 2016 08:28
Last Modified:20 Oct 2016 08:28
Publisher:Royal Society Publishing
ISSN:1744-9561
Funders:Swiss National Science Foundation, Fonds zur Förderung des akademischen Nachwuchses
Free access at:Publisher DOI. An embargo period may apply.
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1098/rsbl.2016.0008

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