Maternal diet alters offspring metabolism and performance
Scientists at The University of Texas Marine Science Institute in Port Aransas have discovered that in fish, just like in humans, the nutrients that are passed from a mother to her offspring can change the way her offspring develop and make a big difference in how well they do in life.
This phenomenon in which prenatal nutrition can permanently alter the metabolism of offspring – called metabolic programming – has been studied almost exclusively in mammals and is believed to be a cause of important medical disorders in humans including hypertension, obesity, and heart disease. Never before have scientists considered what metabolic programming might mean in nature.
In a study published in the prestigious science journal Proceedings of the Royal Society B, Dr. Lee Fuiman and co-author Dr. Kestrel Perez presented their work on red drum, a fish popular among anglers and chefs. The scientists found that the amount of a specific nutrient, the omega-3 fatty acid DHA, that a female fish puts into the yolk in her eggs controls how much DHA her offspring can obtain from their own diet several weeks after they hatch. They also demonstrated that the amount of DHA young fishes get from their diet plays a big role in how well they can swim, grow, and escape from predators.
Adult red drum get most of the DHA that is passed on to their offspring from shrimp and crabs. Decreases in these two food sources, caused by environmental conditions or commercial harvest, is likely to have an impact on the ability of young fish to survive at a time in life when they are small and especially susceptible to predators and starvation.
The research also points to a way to use metabolic programming to benefit fish populations. Several states have stocking programs in which they breed red drum in hatcheries and release millions of young fish into the wild to supplement natural populations. This new research suggests that those hatcheries may be able to improve the survival of the fish they release through close attention to the nutrition of the adult fish and the quality of eggs they produce.
Lee A. Fuiman
University of Texas at Austin
Marine Science Institute
Port Aransas, Texas
Metabolic programming mediated by an essential fatty acid alters body composition and survival skills of a marine fish.
Fuiman LA, Perez KO
Proceedings of the Royal Society B. 2015
|Fish is an important source of micronutrients to… Macronutrients are the major nutrients such as carbohydrate, protein and fats, required in large quantities which provide the bulk of the energy whereas micronutrients (minerals and vitamins) are needed in…|
|Effect of omega-3 acid ethyl esters on left… In the past several decades, Omega-3 fatty acids (O3FA) primarily from fish oil have been reported to have many beneficial effects, either directly on the heart or through other effects…|
|Mother or father obesity may lead to offspring… The process by which early life factors influence offspring health in adulthood is defined as ‘fetal programming’ and is considered a key mechanism for the establishment of chronic diseases in…|
|Does non-clinical maternal depression have a lasting… The special emotional bond that forms between a mother and her infant appears very early in life. Integral to this relationship is the infant’s ability to be able to detect…|
|B-vitamins over-consumption may be the cause of the… Obesity and type 2 diabetes have been a major health issue in the United States. It is during the past few decades that obesity and type 2 diabetes have rapidly…|
|Can historians work with environmental scientists?… How can we uncover how past societies responded to and accommodated changes in their physical environment? It is an important question, because climate change as well as natural events such…|