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Juvenile Nutritional Stress Affects Growth Rate, Adult Organ Mass, and Innate Immune Function in Zebra Finches (Taeniopygia guttata)

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Buddhamas Kriengwatana, Haruka Wada, Alexander Macmillan, Scott A. MacDougall-Shackleton

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Developmental conditions may influence many aspects of adult phenotype, including growth and immune function. Whether poor developmental environments impair both growth and immune function or induce a trade-off between the two processes is inconclusive, and the impact of the timing of stress in determining this relationship has so far been overlooked. We tested the hypothesis that the long-term effects of nutritional stress on growth, body composition, and immune function in zebra finches (Taeniopygia guttata) are different depending on whether stress is experienced during an early or a juvenile phase (i.e., before or after nutritional independence, respectively). We raised birds on high (H) or low (L) food conditions until posthatch day (PHD) 35 and switched treatments for half of the birds in each of the H and L groups from PHD 36 to 61. We found that unfavorable juvenile conditions (PHD 36--61) increased somatic growth rates and liver mass, body fat, and some aspects of immune function. We also observed a positive relationship between growth and immune function, as individuals that grew faster as juveniles also had better innate immune responses as adults. There was no effect of treatment on basal metabolic rate. These findings demonstrate the importance of juvenile developmental conditions in shaping multiple aspects of the adult phenotype.



Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)769-781
Number of pages13
JournalPhysiological and Biochemical Zoology
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 1 Nov 2013

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