The quality of the maternal and developmental environments have been demonstrated to impact a number of traits in adult humans and other animals, including likelihood of developing coronary heart disease, type 2 diabetes mellitus, and hypertension;performance in learning and memory tasks;stress reactivity and immune responses. Two competing hypotheses have been proposed to explain how a mismatch between the quality of the developmental environment and the quality of the adult environment should impact the health and fitness of adults. The environmental matching hypothesis proposes that individual fitness is maximized when the quality of the developmental and adult environments are similar. The second hypothesis, the silver spoon effect, instead proposes that individuals from high quality developmental environments always have higher fitness than individuals from low quality developmental environments, regardless of the quality of the adult environment. The proposed research will test these hypotheses simultaneously by experimentally manipulating exposure to bacterial antigens and stress hormones in females, developing young, and adults. This research will be conducted with zebra finches (Taeniopygia guttata). By manipulating the quality of both the maternal and developmental environments, this research will also address the ability of mothers to ameliorate the negative effects of a poor quality developmental environment for young. The use of a songbird as a research animal will provide an opportunity to test the effects of a mismatch between the developmental and adult environments on vocal learning processes. Finally manipulation of exposure to both endotoxin and corticosterone will isolate the effects of exposure to an inflammatory stimulus and associated activation of the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis from the effects of elevated glucocorticoid levels alone. These studies should provide insight into the developmental origins of adult diseases and variation in behavioral responses. Research into the effects of mismatches between the developmental and adult environments can provide predictive information about the children most at risk from a low quality maternal or developmental environment and the most likely impacts on physiology and behavior.
We will test the ability of the maternal and developmental environments to adaptively prepare young for likely conditions in the adult environment. These studies should provide insight into the developmental origins of adult diseases and variation in behavioral responses. Research into the effects of mismatches between the developmental and adult environments can provide predictive information about the children most at risk from a low quality maternal or developmental environment and the most likely impacts on physiology and behavior.
|Merrill, Loren; Naylor, Madeleine F; Dalimonte, Merria et al. (2017) Early-life immune activation increases song complexity and alters phenotypic associations between sexual ornaments. Funct Ecol 31:2263-2273|
|Brace, Amber J; Lajeunesse, Marc J; Ardia, Daniel R et al. (2017) Costs of immune responses are related to host body size and lifespan. J Exp Zool A Ecol Integr Physiol 327:254-261|
|Grindstaff, Jennifer L; Merrill, Loren (2017) Developmental corticosterone treatment does not program immune responses in zebra finches (Taeniopygia guttata). J Exp Zool A Ecol Integr Physiol 327:262-272|
|Grindstaff, Jennifer L (2016) Developmental immune activation programs adult behavior: insight from research on birds. Curr Opin Behav Sci 7:21-27|
|Fassbinder-Orth, Carol A; Wilcoxen, Travis E; Tran, Tiffany et al. (2016) Immunoglobulin detection in wild birds: effectiveness of three secondary anti-avian IgY antibodies in direct ELISAs in 41 avian species. Methods Ecol Evol 7:1174-1181|
|Merrill, Loren; Naylor, Madeleine F; Grindstaff, Jennifer L (2016) Imperfect past and present progressive: beak color reflects early-life and adult exposure to antigen. Behav Ecol 27:1320-1330|
|Merrill, Loren; Grindstaff, Jennifer L (2015) Pre and post-natal antigen exposure can program the stress axis of adult zebra finches: evidence for environment matching. Brain Behav Immun 45:71-9|
|Wang, Jianping; Liu, Xi; Lu, Hong et al. (2015) CXCR4(+)CD45(-) BMMNC subpopulation is superior to unfractionated BMMNCs for protection after ischemic stroke in mice. Brain Behav Immun 45:98-108|
|Merrill, Loren; Grindstaff, Jennifer L (2014) Maternal antibody transfer can lead to suppression of humoral immunity in developing zebra finches (Taeniopygia guttata). Physiol Biochem Zool 87:740-51|
|Buchanan, Katherine L; Grindstaff, Jennifer L; Pravosudov, Vladimir V (2013) Condition dependence, developmental plasticity, and cognition: implications for ecology and evolution. Trends Ecol Evol 28:290-6|
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