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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

Preference for high energy food in offspring of UL and PL parents.Time spent close to the food sources is given in means±SEM. Significant differences are indicated: * = p<0.05. Dashed bars indicate preference for low energy food.
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pone-0006405-g003: Preference for high energy food in offspring of UL and PL parents.Time spent close to the food sources is given in means±SEM. Significant differences are indicated: * = p<0.05. Dashed bars indicate preference for low energy food.

Mentions: Secondly, the birds were exposed to a pair-wise dominance test, where two birds of the same sex, one from each treatment, competed for a common food resource which only one of them could access at the time. There was no effect of UL on the result in this test (Figure 2). Furthermore, there were no overall effects of UL on the weights at the different ages, but between day 26 and 70, right after onset of treatment in the UL group, UL parents had a higher growth rate than the PL (Figure 3); this was primarily due to an effect in the females,


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)

Preference for high energy food in offspring of UL and PL parents.Time spent close to the food sources is given in means±SEM. Significant differences are indicated: * = p<0.05. Dashed bars indicate preference for low energy food.
© Copyright Policy
Related In: Results  -  Collection

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

pone-0006405-g003: Preference for high energy food in offspring of UL and PL parents.Time spent close to the food sources is given in means±SEM. Significant differences are indicated: * = p<0.05. Dashed bars indicate preference for low energy food.
Mentions: Secondly, the birds were exposed to a pair-wise dominance test, where two birds of the same sex, one from each treatment, competed for a common food resource which only one of them could access at the time. There was no effect of UL on the result in this test (Figure 2). Furthermore, there were no overall effects of UL on the weights at the different ages, but between day 26 and 70, right after onset of treatment in the UL group, UL parents had a higher growth rate than the PL (Figure 3); this was primarily due to an effect in the females,

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