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. 2018 Jun;14(6):20180213.
doi: 10.1098/rsbl.2018.0213.

Reduced Telomere Length in Offspring of Old Fathers in a Long-Lived Seabird

Free PMC article

Reduced Telomere Length in Offspring of Old Fathers in a Long-Lived Seabird

Sandra Bouwhuis et al. Biol Lett. .
Free PMC article


Evidence for transgenerational effects of senescence, whereby offspring from older parents have a reduced lifetime reproductive success, is increasing. Such effects could arise from compromised germline maintenance in old parents, potentially reflected in reduced telomere length in their offspring. We test the relationship between parental age and offspring early-life telomere length in a natural population of common terns and find a significant negative correlation between paternal age and offspring telomere length. Offspring telomere length is reduced by 35 base pairs for each additional year of paternal age. We find no correlation with maternal age. These results fit with the idea of compromised germline maintenance in males, whose germline stem cells require continued division.

Keywords: Lansing effect; Sterna hirundo; ageing; common tern; parental effect; terminal restriction fragment analysis.

Conflict of interest statement

We have no competing interests.


Figure 1.
Figure 1.
Common tern offspring telomere length decreased with paternal (a), but not maternal (b), age at conception. Presented are average offspring telomere lengths per parent, but analyses were carried out on the full dataset.

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