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[Article in Press]

Type of publication: Journal Article
Type of document: Full Paper

Year: 2021

Authors: Spie├čberger, M; Hoelzl, F; Smith, S; Vetter, S; Ruf, T; Nowack, J

Title: The tarnished silver spoon? Trade-off between prenatal growth and telomere length in wild boar.

Source: J Evol Biol. 2021;

Authors Vetmeduni Vienna:

Nowack Julia
Ruf Thomas
Vetter Sebastian

Vetmed Research Units
Konrad Lorenz Institute of Ethology
Research Institute of Wildlife Ecology

Life history theory predicts a trade-off between growth rates and lifespan, which is reflected by telomere length, a biomarker of somatic state. We investigated the correlation between telomere length and early life growth of wild boar piglets, Sus scrofa, kept under semi-natural conditions with high food availability to examine our hypothesis that increased pre-and post-natal growth will lead to telomere length attrition but that a high supply of nutrient may provide the possibility to compensate telomere loss via telomere repair mechanisms. As predicted, our data showed a clear negative correlation between birth body mass and initial telomere length: heavier neonates had shorter telomeres at birth, and we did not find an influence of the mother on initial telomere length. Body mass at birth correlated with body mass later in life and post-natal growth rate did not affect telomere length. We observed an increase in telomere length during postnatal development, suggesting that high food availability allowed piglets to invest into both, growth and telomere restoration. The increase in telomere length over the duration of the study was not accompanied by telomerase activity, thus telomere elongation was either caused by alternative mechanisms or by short pulses of telomerase activity, that we missed. Taken together, this study suggests a trade-off between investment into growth and telomere maintenance even before birth and the possibility to compensate telomere attrition during growth under high amounts of available energy.This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.

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