Maternal effects and the evolution of brain size in birds: Overlooked developmental constraints

Garamszegi, László Zsolt and Biard, C. and Eens, M. and Moller, A. P. and Saino, N. and Surai, P. (2007) Maternal effects and the evolution of brain size in birds: Overlooked developmental constraints. Neuroscience and Biobehavioral Reviews, 31 (4). pp. 498-515. ISSN 0149-7634

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A central dogma for the evolution of brain size posits that the maintenance of large brains incurs developmental costs, because they need prolonged periods to grow during the early ontogeny. Such constraints are supported by the interspecific relationship between ontological differences and relative brain size in birds and mammals. Given that mothers can strongly influence the development of the offspring via maternal effects that potentially involve substances essential for growing brains, we argue that such effects may represent an important but overlooked component of developmental constraints on brain size. To demonstrate the importance of maternal effect on the evolution of brains, we investigated the interspecific relationship between relative brain size and maternal effects, as reflected by yolk testosterone, carotenoids, and vitamins A and E in a phylogenetic study of birds. Females of species with relatively large brains invested more in eggs in terms of testosterone and vitamin E than females of species with small brains. The effects of carotenoid and vitamin A levels on the evolution of relative brain size were weaker and non-significant. The association between relative brain size and yolk testosterone was curvilinear, suggesting that very high testosterone levels can be suppressive. However, at least in moderate physiological ranges, the positive relationship between components of maternal effects and relative brain size may imply one aspect of developmental costs of large brains. The relationship between vitamin E and relative brain size was weakened when we controlled for developmental mode, and thus the effect of this antioxidant may be indirect. Testosterone-enhanced neurogenesis and vitamin Emediated defence against oxidative stress may have key functions when the brain of the embryo develops, with evolutionary consequences for relative brain size.

Item Type: Article
Subjects: Q Science / természettudomány > QH Natural history / természetrajz > QH301 Biology / biológia
Q Science / természettudomány > QL Zoology / állattan
R Medicine / orvostudomány > RC Internal medicine / belgyógyászat > RC0321 Neuroscience. Biological psychiatry. Neuropsychiatry / idegkórtan, neurológia, pszichiátria
Depositing User: Erika Bilicsi
Date Deposited: 27 Feb 2013 13:28
Last Modified: 27 Feb 2013 13:28

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