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Inheritance of acquired behaviour adaptations and brain gene expression in chickens.

Nätt D, Lindqvist N, Stranneheim H, Lundeberg J, Torjesen PA, Jensen P - PLoS ONE (2009)

Bottom Line: In a foraging test, UL birds pecked more at freely available, rather than at hidden and more attractive food, compared to birds from the PL group.Using cDNA microarrays, we found that the differential brain gene expression caused by the challenge was mirrored in the offspring.Estradiol levels were significantly higher in egg yolk from UL birds, suggesting one possible mechanism for these effects.

View Article: PubMed Central - PubMed

Affiliation: IFM Biology Division of Zoology, Linköping University Sweden, Linköping, Sweden.

ABSTRACT

Background: Environmental challenges may affect both the exposed individuals and their offspring. We investigated possible adaptive aspects of such cross-generation transmissions, and hypothesized that chronic unpredictable food access would cause chickens to show a more conservative feeding strategy and to be more dominant, and that these adaptations would be transmitted to the offspring.

Methodology/principal findings: Parents were raised in an unpredictable (UL) or in predictable diurnal light rhythm (PL, 12:12 h light:dark). In a foraging test, UL birds pecked more at freely available, rather than at hidden and more attractive food, compared to birds from the PL group. Female offspring of UL birds, raised in predictable light conditions without parental contact, showed a similar foraging behavior, differing from offspring of PL birds. Furthermore, adult offspring of UL birds performed more food pecks in a dominance test, showed a higher preference for high energy food, survived better, and were heavier than offspring of PL parents. Using cDNA microarrays, we found that the differential brain gene expression caused by the challenge was mirrored in the offspring. In particular, several immunoglobulin genes seemed to be affected similarly in both UL parents and their offspring. Estradiol levels were significantly higher in egg yolk from UL birds, suggesting one possible mechanism for these effects.

Conclusions/significance: Our findings suggest that unpredictable food access caused seemingly adaptive responses in feeding behavior, which may have been transmitted to the offspring by means of epigenetic mechanisms, including regulation of immune genes. This may have prepared the offspring for coping with an unpredictable environment.

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Related in: MedlinePlus

Average nrs of pecks±SEM directed to a familiar, readily available food resource in UL and PL parents, and their respective offspring, as measured in a Foraging test.Significant differences are indicated: * = p<0.05; ** = p<0.01.
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pone-0006405-g001: Average nrs of pecks±SEM directed to a familiar, readily available food resource in UL and PL parents, and their respective offspring, as measured in a Foraging test.Significant differences are indicated: * = p<0.05; ** = p<0.01.

Mentions: Parents were firstly tested in a foraging test, where individual test birds each were allowed to feed in an arena containing three types of potential food sources placed in evenly distributed holes in the floor. One third of the holes contained freely accessible regular food and one third contained meal worms, a highly preferred food item to which the birds had earlier been accustomed. The meal worms were hidden in saw dust, so finding the food required searching and scratching. The last third contained only saw-dust (no food), so in effect, a bird had to choose between eating freely available standard feed or searching for a more unreliable, but attractive, food. UL parents showed an overall increase in the total number of pecks in the arena compared to PL (means±SEM: 595±63 versus 322±66 pecks, F1,29 = 7.3, p<0.01), and they pecked more in holes containing freely available regular feed (Figure 1).


Inheritance of acquired behaviour adaptations and brain gene expression in chickens.

Nätt D, Lindqvist N, Stranneheim H, Lundeberg J, Torjesen PA, Jensen P - PLoS ONE (2009)

Average nrs of pecks±SEM directed to a familiar, readily available food resource in UL and PL parents, and their respective offspring, as measured in a Foraging test.Significant differences are indicated: * = p<0.05; ** = p<0.01.
© Copyright Policy
Related In: Results  -  Collection

Show All Figures
getmorefigures.php?uid=PMC2713434&req=5

pone-0006405-g001: Average nrs of pecks±SEM directed to a familiar, readily available food resource in UL and PL parents, and their respective offspring, as measured in a Foraging test.Significant differences are indicated: * = p<0.05; ** = p<0.01.
Mentions: Parents were firstly tested in a foraging test, where individual test birds each were allowed to feed in an arena containing three types of potential food sources placed in evenly distributed holes in the floor. One third of the holes contained freely accessible regular food and one third contained meal worms, a highly preferred food item to which the birds had earlier been accustomed. The meal worms were hidden in saw dust, so finding the food required searching and scratching. The last third contained only saw-dust (no food), so in effect, a bird had to choose between eating freely available standard feed or searching for a more unreliable, but attractive, food. UL parents showed an overall increase in the total number of pecks in the arena compared to PL (means±SEM: 595±63 versus 322±66 pecks, F1,29 = 7.3, p<0.01), and they pecked more in holes containing freely available regular feed (Figure 1).

Bottom Line: In a foraging test, UL birds pecked more at freely available, rather than at hidden and more attractive food, compared to birds from the PL group.Using cDNA microarrays, we found that the differential brain gene expression caused by the challenge was mirrored in the offspring.Estradiol levels were significantly higher in egg yolk from UL birds, suggesting one possible mechanism for these effects.

View Article: PubMed Central - PubMed

Affiliation: IFM Biology Division of Zoology, Linköping University Sweden, Linköping, Sweden.

ABSTRACT

Background: Environmental challenges may affect both the exposed individuals and their offspring. We investigated possible adaptive aspects of such cross-generation transmissions, and hypothesized that chronic unpredictable food access would cause chickens to show a more conservative feeding strategy and to be more dominant, and that these adaptations would be transmitted to the offspring.

Methodology/principal findings: Parents were raised in an unpredictable (UL) or in predictable diurnal light rhythm (PL, 12:12 h light:dark). In a foraging test, UL birds pecked more at freely available, rather than at hidden and more attractive food, compared to birds from the PL group. Female offspring of UL birds, raised in predictable light conditions without parental contact, showed a similar foraging behavior, differing from offspring of PL birds. Furthermore, adult offspring of UL birds performed more food pecks in a dominance test, showed a higher preference for high energy food, survived better, and were heavier than offspring of PL parents. Using cDNA microarrays, we found that the differential brain gene expression caused by the challenge was mirrored in the offspring. In particular, several immunoglobulin genes seemed to be affected similarly in both UL parents and their offspring. Estradiol levels were significantly higher in egg yolk from UL birds, suggesting one possible mechanism for these effects.

Conclusions/significance: Our findings suggest that unpredictable food access caused seemingly adaptive responses in feeding behavior, which may have been transmitted to the offspring by means of epigenetic mechanisms, including regulation of immune genes. This may have prepared the offspring for coping with an unpredictable environment.

Show MeSH
Related in: MedlinePlus