Does Reproductive Investment Decrease Telomere Length in Menidia menidia?

PLoS One. 2015 May 4;10(5):e0125674. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0125674. eCollection 2015.


Given finite resources, intense investment in one life history trait is expected to reduce investment in others. Although telomere length appears to be strongly tied to age in many taxa, telomere maintenance requires energy. We therefore hypothesize that telomere maintenance may trade off against other life history characters. We used natural variation in laboratory populations of Atlantic silversides (Menidia menidia) to study the relationship between growth, fecundity, life expectancy, and relative telomere length. In keeping with several other studies on fishes, we found no clear dependence of telomere length on age. However, we did find that more fecund fish tended to have both reduced life expectancy and shorter telomeres. This result is consistent with the hypothesis that there is a trade-off between telomere maintenance and reproductive output.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Brain / metabolism
  • Female
  • Fertility
  • Gonads / anatomy & histology
  • Male
  • Muscles / metabolism
  • Organ Size
  • Ovum / metabolism
  • Regression Analysis
  • Reproduction / physiology*
  • Smegmamorpha / physiology*
  • Telomere Homeostasis*

Grant support

The authors received no specific funding for this work.