The environment experienced by females can have long-lasting effects on offspring phenotype. The objective of this study was to determine if maternal stress-induced behaviour reprogramming in offspring is found in brook char and to test whether cortisol is the main mediator, by separating the potential effects of cortisol from that of other potential maternal factors. We exposed female brook trout (Salvelinus fontinalis) to different parallel treatments during the oogenesis period: undisturbed as controls (1) fed cortisol through food (2) or physically stressed by handling once a week (3). Additionally, we exposed half of the control eggs to a cortisol suspension before fertilisation (4). Cortisol consumption and handling did not elevate either maternal plasma or egg cortisol, although egg cortisol level was significantly increased when eggs were bathed in the suspension. We measured spatial learning and memory, boldness and neophobia in 6 month-old offspring and found no effects of treatments on learning, memory or behaviour. Our results suggest that the relationship between maternal stress, circulating and egg cortisol levels, other maternal factors, and behavioural reprogramming is context and species-specific.
Physiological and condition-related indicators of environmental stress in fish. — In:
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Context-dependent responses to novelty in rainbow trout (Oncorhynchus mykiss), selected for high and low post-stress cortisol responsiveness. —
Egg hormones in a highly fecund vertebrate: do they influence offspring social structure in competitive conditions? —
Quantitative genetic analysis of the physiological stress response in three strains of brook charr Salvelinus fontinalis and their hybrids. —
J. Fish Biol.79:
Prespawning stress in farmed Atlantic salmon Salmo salar: maternal cortisol exposure and hyperthermia during embryonic development affect offspring survival, growth and incidence of malformations. —
J. Fish Biol.69:
Stressed mothers–troubled offspring: a study of behavioural maternal effects in farmed Salmo salar. —
J. Fish Biol.79:
Formation of the vitelline envelope precedes the active uptake of vitellogenin during oocyte development in the rainbow trout, Oncorhynchus mykiss. —
Mol. Reprod. Dev.39:
Effects of acute stress on plasma cortisol, sex steroid hormone and glucose levels in male and female sockeye salmon during the breeding season. —
Dynamics of cortisol and the development of the glucocorticoid function in the early ontogenesis of Atlantic salmon Salmo salar. —
Changes in the concentrations of four maternal steroids during embryonic development in the threespined stickleback (Gasterosteus aculeatus). —
J. Exp. Zool. A: Ecol. Gen. Physiol.323:
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Stressed mothers lay eggs with high corticosterone levels which produce low-quality offspring. —
J. Exp. Zool. A: Comp. Exp. Biol.303:
Mother knows best, even when stressed? Effects of maternal exposure to a stressor on offspring performance at different life stages in a wild semelparous fish. —
Stress induced elevation of plasma cortisol in adult female coho salmon (Oncorhynchus kisutch), is reflected in egg cortisol content, but does not appear to affect early development. —
WheelerB. (2010). lmPerm: permutation tests for linear models. — R Package version 1.1-2. R Foundation for Statistical Computing, Vienna, available online at http://CRAN.R-project.org/package=lmPerm.
Behavioural syndromes in brook charr, Salvelinus fontinalis: prey-search in the field corresponds with space use in novel laboratory situations. —