“The universe we observe has precisely the properties we should expect if there is, at bottom, no design, no purpose, no evil, no good, nothing but blind, pitiless indifference.” ~ Charles Darwin
Newly discovered non-genetic mechanisms break the link between genes and inheritance, thereby also raising the possibility that previous mating partners could influence traits in offspring sired by subsequent males that mate with the same female (‘telegony’). In the fly Telostylinus angusticollis, males transmit their environmentally acquired condition via paternal effects on offspring body size. We manipulated male condition, and mated females to two males in high or low condition in a fully crossed design. Although the second male sired a large majority of offspring, offspring body size was influenced by the condition of the first male. This effect was not observed when females were exposed to the first male without mating, implicating semen-mediated effects rather than female differential allocation based on pre-mating assessment of male quality. Our results reveal a novel type of transgenerational effect with potential implications for the evolution of reproductive strategies.
Full PDF here: http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/ele.12373/pdf
Could this be the arbiter of female hypergamy? The reason women consistently underestimate their partner count? The reason for the classical association with purity in chaste women?
Certainly there is a new direction in studying maternal quality, we know for a fact that pregnant women receive stem cells from the foetus, and these usually include crossing the blood-brain barrier and becoming brain cells.
This study of blood finds male cells where they shouldn’t be in a mother, with such a heavy impact on its host it might impact organ donation.
In conclusion, we show for the first time functional evidence for transmaternal cell flow resulting in Ag-specific T-cell priming and resulting in microchimerism in mother’s offspring.
This is called fetomaternal microchimerism, where a new organism (in this case, baby) pollutes the purity of the mother’s cells (unkind metaphor but apt). The record for how long this phenomena has lasted in its host, this ‘new lineage’, is 27 years. Fertility window time.
The future direction is clear, there is a biological basis for slut shaming. As these studies scale up, the prospect of transfer is almost guaranteed, given these findings across species. For example, human trials have only included fertilizations (foetuses) thus far as previous acceptable (testable) material and not simple sperm or RNA presence, which would involve taking samples from all of a woman’s previous lovers. The lack of experiment with modern computing of samples has left the subject wide open to speculation again. Consider the societal implications, whatever the actual transfer percentage.
It might be a few errant proteins, the odd specific DNA fragments, but do you really think men won’t care?