Consequences of prenatal androgen exposure for the reproductive performance of female pheasants (Phasianus colchicus)

Diego Rubolini, Roberta Martinelli, Nikolaus von Engelhardt, Maria Romano, Ton G. G. Groothuis, Mauro Fasola, Nicola Saino*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

42 Citations (Scopus)
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Abstract

Maternal hormones in vertebrate eggs can mediate important forms of maternal effects. However, the function of hormone transfer to the eggs is still debated, especially because long-term fitness consequences have been little studied. We investigated the effect of prenatal exposure to physiologically elevated yolk testosterone (T) levels on reproduction of female pheasants (Phasianus colchicus) in captivity. We found that females hatching from T-injected eggs (T-females) had a lower egg-laying rate than controls, and their eggs were more frequently infertile than those laid by control females. There were no effects of prenatal maternal treatment on egg size and yolk T concentration, but eggs carrying a female embryo laid by T-females had smaller yolks than eggs with a male embryo, while there was no sex difference in yolk size among the eggs laid by control females. Progeny sex ratio was unaffected by maternal treatment. These findings suggest that the transfer of high androgen levels to the eggs by the mother is constrained by complex trade-offs between direct effects on her daughters' reproduction and by trans-generational differential consequences on male and female descendants.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)137-142
Number of pages6
JournalProceedings of the Royal Society of London. Series B, Biological Sciences
Volume274
Issue number1606
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 7-Jan-2007

Keywords

  • egg laying
  • fecundity
  • fertility
  • maternal effects
  • sex allocation
  • testosterone
  • RING-NECKED PHEASANT
  • PRIMARY SEX-RATIO
  • YOLK TESTOSTERONE
  • MATERNAL TESTOSTERONE
  • ZEBRA FINCHES
  • EXPERIMENTAL MANIPULATION
  • OFFSPRING PHENOTYPE
  • HORMONE DEPOSITION
  • PASSER-DOMESTICUS
  • EGG ANDROGEN

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