Age-related trade-offs and telomere dynamics in passerines

Dr Joanna Sudyka, Centre of New Technologies, University of Warsaw

Date: Wednesday, the 9th of May 2018 at 1PM, Cent Lecture Theatre 0142

Telomere biology keeps on receiving substantial interest among researchers, as the understanding of role and patterns of telomere erosion may provide important insight into ageing process. Telomeres are short tandem repeats of DNA (TTAGGG)n found at the ends of eukaryotic chromosomes. With each cell division they become shorter due to incomplete replication at the lagging DNA strand. Telomere dynamics is a candidate mechanism to underlie life-history trade-offs and as such may correlate with observed fitness in animals.

For example, costs of current reproduction often manifest in terms of future fecundity or survival. The idea arises that telomeres and oxidative stress, a process related to telomere dynamics, may serve as biomarkers of reproduction-associated decrease in survival probability. Parasitic infections, such as malaria, are another stressor reducing observed fitness in animals which could potentially be mediated by telomere dynamics. In this talk, I will explore if reproduction and parasites shape telomere dynamics applying experimental and observational approaches. As model species I will use two passerines: free-ranging blue tit (Cyanistes caeruleus) and captive zebra finch (Taeniopygia guttata).