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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2007 Apr 3;104(14):5942-6. Epub 2007 Mar 26.

Transgenerational epigenetic imprints on mate preference.

Author information

1
Section of Integrative Biology,University of Texas, Austin, TX 78712, USA.

Abstract

Environmental contamination by endocrine-disrupting chemicals (EDC) can have epigenetic effects (by DNA methylation) on the germ line and promote disease across subsequent generations. In natural populations, both sexes may encounter affected as well as unaffected individuals during the breeding season, and any diminution in attractiveness could compromise reproductive success. Here we examine mate preference in male and female rats whose progenitors had been treated with the antiandrogenic fungicide vinclozolin. This effect is sex-specific, and we demonstrate that females three generations removed from the exposure discriminate and prefer males who do not have a history of exposure, whereas similarly epigenetically imprinted males do not exhibit such a preference. The observations suggest that the consequences of EDCs are not just transgenerational but can be "transpopulational", because in many mammalian species, males are the dispersing sex. This result indicates that epigenetic transgenerational inheritance of EDC action represents an unappreciated force in sexual selection. Our observations provide direct experimental evidence for a role of epigenetics as a determinant factor in evolution.

PMID:
17389367
PMCID:
PMC1851596
DOI:
10.1073/pnas.0610410104
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

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