The genetics of family interactions in mice

  • Beatrice Gini

    Student thesis: Unknown


    Parents and offspring engage in conflict over the amount of resources provisioned by parents, because parents wish to distribute resources equally between all offspring, while each offspring attempts to secure a greater than average share of resources for itself. Parents are responsiblingle for the act of provisioning, yet they need to be sensitive to signals of hunger from their offspring (begging) and therefore they can be manipulated by cheating offspring into provisioning more than the parental optimum. Both parents and offspring evolve strategies to cope with this conflict and, because the payoff of each strategy depends on the behaviour of the interacting party, parents and offspring co-evolve pairs of compatible strategies. While these dynamics have been studied in detail from a game-theoretical and phenotypic perspective, little is known about the genetics underlying parental and offspring strategies. In this study, I used a panel of recombinant inbred mouse lines to investigate the genetics of provisioning and begging. The results clearly show that some areas of the genome are associated with particular strategies in each individual, and also that the genome of offspring can be linked to maternal behaviour through indirect genetic effects. They also show that provisioning and growth are co-adapted in these mice, and that linkage disequilibrium is the mechanism maintaining co-adaptation in this case. Importantly, the genotype of mothers interacts with the environment created by pups in highly significant and complex ways. Finally, I describe an area of the genome associated with sex ratio, and find that a male-biased sex ratio causes mothers to intensify provisioning. All findings are discussed with regards to their implications for evolutionary models.
    Date of Award31 Dec 2015
    Original languageEnglish
    Awarding Institution
    • The University of Manchester
    SupervisorRichard Preziosi (Supervisor) & Reinmar Hager (Supervisor)

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