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Disentangling genetic and prenatal maternal effects on offspring size and survival


Pick, Joel L; Ebneter, Christina; Hutter, Pascale; Tschirren, Barbara (2016). Disentangling genetic and prenatal maternal effects on offspring size and survival. The American Naturalist, 188(6):628-639.

Abstract

Organisational processes during prenatal development can have long-term effects on an indi- vidual’s phenotype. Because these early developmental stages are sensitive to environmental influences, mothers are in a unique position to alter their offspring’s phenotype by differentially allocating resource to their developing young. However, such prenatal maternal effects are diffi- cult to disentangle from other forms of parental care, additive genetic effects and/or other forms of maternal inheritance, hampering our understanding of their evolutionary consequences. Here we used divergent selection lines for high and low prenatal maternal investment, and their re- ciprocal line crosses, in a precocial bird, the Japanese quail (Coturnix japonica), to quantify the relative importance of genes and prenatal maternal effects in shaping offspring phenotype. Ma- ternal, but not paternal, origin strongly affected offspring body size and survival throughout development. Although the effects of maternal egg investment faded over time, they were large at key life stages. Additionally, there was evidence for other forms of maternal inheritance af- fecting offspring phenotype at later stages of development. Our study is among the first to successfully disentangle prenatal maternal effects from all other sources of confounding varia- tion and highlights the important role of prenatal maternal provisioning in shaping offspring traits closely linked to fitness.

Abstract

Organisational processes during prenatal development can have long-term effects on an indi- vidual’s phenotype. Because these early developmental stages are sensitive to environmental influences, mothers are in a unique position to alter their offspring’s phenotype by differentially allocating resource to their developing young. However, such prenatal maternal effects are diffi- cult to disentangle from other forms of parental care, additive genetic effects and/or other forms of maternal inheritance, hampering our understanding of their evolutionary consequences. Here we used divergent selection lines for high and low prenatal maternal investment, and their re- ciprocal line crosses, in a precocial bird, the Japanese quail (Coturnix japonica), to quantify the relative importance of genes and prenatal maternal effects in shaping offspring phenotype. Ma- ternal, but not paternal, origin strongly affected offspring body size and survival throughout development. Although the effects of maternal egg investment faded over time, they were large at key life stages. Additionally, there was evidence for other forms of maternal inheritance af- fecting offspring phenotype at later stages of development. Our study is among the first to successfully disentangle prenatal maternal effects from all other sources of confounding varia- tion and highlights the important role of prenatal maternal provisioning in shaping offspring traits closely linked to fitness.

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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 09:52
Last Modified:01 Sep 2017 00:01
Publisher:University of Chicago Press
ISSN:0003-0147
Funders:Swiss National Science Foundation
Free access at:Publisher DOI. An embargo period may apply.
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1086/688918
Related URLs:http://doi.org/10.5061/dryad.40jp4

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