Theses Doctoral

Paternal Effects on Offspring Development: Epigenetic Mechanisms and the Role of Paternal-Maternal Interplay

Mashoodh, Rahia

Paternal environmental experiences are significant predictors of developmental outcomes in offspring and can occur even in the absence of paternal care. Although there has been a recent focus on the role of environmentally induced changes in the male germline in producing these effects, the potential mediating role of mothers has not been investigated. A role for mothers in the transmission of paternal effects has been well acknowledged in behavioral ecology, which predicts that females will dynamically adjust their reproductive investment in response to the qualities of their mate. In the current thesis offspring development was examined in response two contrasting paternal experiences. Both chronic food restriction (FR) and social enrichment induce changes in mate maternal investment. Significantly, measures of anxiety in social enriched and isolated males are correlated with mate maternal behavior. In the case of paternal FR, increases in pre- and postnatal maternal investment were observed in mates, an effect that appeared to be driven by female discrimination of FR versus control-fed (CF) males. Further, the detrimental effects of paternal FR on offspring development were only observed when offspring were sired through embryo transfer (i.e., females mated with CF but received embryo from FR father), suggesting that females may adjust reproductive investment in response to life-histories of their mate. The studies presented within this thesis describe how paternal experience can influence mate maternal investment in laboratory studies and how these paternally-induced maternal effects can be experimentally dissociated from experience-dependent germline changes to reveal the unique contributions of each parent upon offspring development. The results are discussed within the context of epigenetic inheritance, the transmission of disease and their implications for Lamarckian inheritance.


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More About This Work

Academic Units
Thesis Advisors
Champagne, Frances A.
Ph.D., Columbia University
Published Here
July 7, 2014