1. Genetics and Genomics
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Genetic variation in offspring indirectly influences the quality of maternal behaviour in mice

  1. David George Ashbrook  Is a corresponding author
  2. Beatrice Gini
  3. Reinmar Hager
  1. University of Manchester, United Kingdom
  2. University of Mancehster, United Kingdom
Research Article
  • Cited 19
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Cite this article as: eLife 2015;4:e11814 doi: 10.7554/eLife.11814


Conflict over parental investment between parent and offspring is predicted to lead to selection on genes expressed in offspring for traits influencing maternal investment, and on parentally expressed genes affecting offspring behaviour. However, the specific genetic variants that indirectly modify maternal or offspring behaviour remain largely unknown. Using a cross-fostered population of mice, we map maternal behaviour in genetically uniform mothers as a function of genetic variation in offspring and identify loci on offspring chromosomes 5 and 7 that modify maternal behaviour. Conversely, we found that genetic variation among mothers influences offspring development, independent of offspring genotype. Offspring solicitation and maternal behaviour show signs of coadaptation as they are negatively correlated between mothers and their biological offspring, which may be linked to costs of increased solicitation on growth found in our study. Overall, our results show levels of parental provisioning and offspring solicitation are unique to specific genotypes.

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Author details

  1. David George Ashbrook

    Computational and Evolutionary Biology, Faculty of Life Sciences, University of Manchester, Manchester, United Kingdom
    For correspondence
    Competing interests
    The authors declare that no competing interests exist.
  2. Beatrice Gini

    Computational and Evolutionary Biology, Faculty of Life Sciences, University of Manchester, Manchester, United Kingdom
    Competing interests
    The authors declare that no competing interests exist.
  3. Reinmar Hager

    Computational and Evolutionary Biology, Faculty of Life Sciences, University of Mancehster, Manchester, United Kingdom
    Competing interests
    The authors declare that no competing interests exist.


Animal experimentation: All procedures were approved by the University of Manchester Ethics Committee.

Reviewing Editor

  1. Jonathan Flint, Wellcome Trust Centre for Human Genetics, United Kingdom

Publication history

  1. Received: September 23, 2015
  2. Accepted: December 17, 2015
  3. Accepted Manuscript published: December 23, 2015 (version 1)
  4. Version of Record published: February 9, 2016 (version 2)


© 2015, Ashbrook et al.

This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License permitting unrestricted use and redistribution provided that the original author and source are credited.


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