Reproductive Strategies Affect Telomere Dynamics Across the Life Course
Because parental care has a heritable basis, the benefits of receiving increased parental provisioning early in life are genetically linked to the costs of providing increased parental provisioning at adulthood. Reproductive strategies thus result in distinct cost-benefit syndromes across the life course that may shape individual health and aging trajectories. Here we used an artificial selection approach in Japanese quail (Coturnix japonica) to test how reproductive strategies affect telomere length, a biomarker of somatic state, at different life stages. We show that males but not females from lines selected for low maternal investment (i.e., developing in a relatively small egg) had shorter telomeres at birth. These patterns were still weakly present at the end of the juvenile growth period. In contrast, significantly shorter telomeres were found in reproductively active adult birds from the high-investment lines, suggesting that telomere attrition was accelerated in these individuals once they had become reproductively active. Our study shows that reproductive strategies differentially affect telomere dynamics across the life course, highlighting the role of cross-generational constraints in shaping individual aging trajectories.
Link to Published Version
Romero-Haro, A. A,; Morger, Jennifer; Haussmann, Mark F.; and Tschirren, Barbara. "Reproductive Strategies Affect Telomere Dynamics Across the Life Course." (2022) : 373-382.