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Telomere length reflects individual quality in free-living adult king penguins
Stockholm University, Faculty of Science, Department of Zoology. Université de Strasbourg, France; Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique (CNRS), France.
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Number of Authors: 8
2015 (English)In: Polar Biology, ISSN 0722-4060, E-ISSN 1432-2056, Vol. 38, no 12, 2059-2067 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Growing evidence suggests that telomeres, non-coding DNA sequences that shorten with age and stress, are related in an undefined way to individual breeding performances and survival rates in several species. Short telomeres and elevated shortening rates are typically associated with life stress and low health. As such, telomeres could serve as an integrative proxy of individual quality, describing the overall biological state of an individual at a given age. Telomere length could be associated with the decline of an array of physiological traits in age-controlled individuals. Here, we investigated the links between individuals' relative telomere length, breeding performance and various physiological (body condition, natural antibody levels) and life history (age, past breeding success) parameters in a long-lived seabird species, the king penguin Aptenodytes patagonicus. While we observed no link between relative telomere length and age, we found that birds with longer telomeres arrived earlier for breeding at the colony, and had higher breeding performances (i.e. the amount of time adults managed to maintain their chicks alive, and ultimately breeding success) than individuals with shorter telomeres. Further, we observed a positive correlation between telomere length and natural antibody levels. Taken together, our results add to the growing evidence that telomere length is likely to reflect individual quality difference in wild animal.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2015. Vol. 38, no 12, 2059-2067 p.
Keyword [en]
Breeding performances, Long-lived seabird, Natural antibody level, Body condition
National Category
Biological Sciences
URN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-124720DOI: 10.1007/s00300-015-1766-0ISI: 000365791300009OAI: diva2:894775
Available from: 2016-01-15 Created: 2016-01-04 Last updated: 2016-01-15Bibliographically approved

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Le Vaillant, Maryline
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