Females adjust maternal hormone concentration in eggs according to male condition in a burying beetle

Matthieu Paquet, Charline Parenteau, Jon Richardson, Lucy Ford, Frédéric Angelier, Per Terje Smiseth, Lucy Ford

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract / Description of output

In birds and other vertebrates, there is good evidence that females adjust the allocation of hormones in their eggs in response to prenatal environmental conditions, such as food availability or male phenotype, with profound consequences for life history traits of offspring. In insects, there is also evidence that females deposit juvenile hormones (JH) and ecdysteroids (ESH) in their eggs, hormones that play a key role in regulating offspring growth and metamorphosis. However, it is unclear whether females adjust their hormonal deposition in eggs in response to prenatal environmental conditions. Here we address this gap by conducting an experiment on the burying beetle Nicrophorus vespilloides, in which we manipulated the presence of the male parent and the size of the carcass used for breeding at the time of laying. We also tested for effects of the condition (i.e., body mass) of the parents. We then recorded subsequent effects on JH and ESH concentrations in the eggs. We found no evidence for an effect of these prenatal environmental conditions (male presence and carcass size) on hormonal concentration in the eggs. However, we found that females reduced their deposition of JH when mated with heavier males. This finding is consistent with negative differential allocation of maternal hormones in response to variation in the body mass of the male parent. We encourage further work to investigate the role of maternally derived hormones in insect eggs.
Original languageEnglish
Article number104708
JournalHormones and Behavior
Early online date17 Feb 2020
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 17 Feb 2020

Keywords / Materials (for Non-textual outputs)

  • differential allocation
  • ecdysone
  • eggs
  • juvenile hormone
  • maternal effect
  • Nicrophorus vespilloides


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