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Behaviour epigenetics – The connection between environment, stress and welfare
Linköping University, Department of Physics, Chemistry and Biology, Biology. Linköping University, The Institute of Technology. (AVIAN Behaviour Physiology and Genomics group)
2014 (English)In: Applied Animal Behaviour Science, ISSN 0168-1591, E-ISSN 1872-9045, Vol. 157, 1-7 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Epigenetics refers to chemical modifications of DNA, which do not change the base-pairsequence. This involves, for example, methylation of cytosine and different alterations inhistone chemistry. Such modifications affect how genes are expressed and can occur as aresponse to stress, mediated by steroid hormones. Hence, the coordination of how genesare expressed, the orchestration of the genome so to say, responds dynamically to environ-mental challenges. In this selective review, the evidence in support of such mechanismsis discussed. Data show that epigenetic mechanisms can be affected by stress in differentlife phases, even prenatally, and this can cause long-term modifications of behaviour andstress susceptibility. Several studies show that such effects can even persist into cominggenerations. Research on chickens demonstrates that chronic, as well as brief events ofstress cause transgenerationally stable changes of brain gene expression, behaviour andHPA-axis sensitivity. Evidence is also reviewed, suggesting that epigenetic variation mayhave been a substrate for selection during domestication. It is concluded that the mainresearch challenge for the future is to understand the gene × epigenetics × environmentinteraction, and incorporate this into the field of animal welfare.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Elsevier, 2014. Vol. 157, 1-7 p.
Keyword [en]
Genetics, Epigenetics, Methylation, Stress, Welfare
National Category
Biological Sciences
URN: urn:nbn:se:liu:diva-109113DOI: 10.1016/j.applanim.2014.02.009ISI: 000340328700001OAI: diva2:736890
Available from: 2014-08-11 Created: 2014-08-11 Last updated: 2014-09-15

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Jensen, Per
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