Thermal conditioning of quail embryos has transgenerational and reversible long-term effects.

TitleThermal conditioning of quail embryos has transgenerational and reversible long-term effects.
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2023
AuthorsCarvalho, AVitorino, Hennequet-Antier, C, Rouger, R, Delaveau, J, Bordeau, T, Crochet, S, Couroussé, N, Pitel, F, Collin, A, Coustham, V
JournalJ Anim Sci Biotechnol
Date Published2023 Oct 03

BACKGROUND: In the current context of global warming, thermal manipulation of avian embryos has received increasing attention as a strategy to promote heat tolerance in avian species by simply increasing the egg incubation temperature. However, because of their likely epigenetic origin, thermal manipulation effects may last more than one generation with consequences for the poultry industry. In this work, a multigenerational and transgenerational analysis of thermal manipulation during embryogenesis was performed to uncover the long-term effects of such procedure.

RESULTS: Thermal manipulation repeated during 4 generations had an effect on hatchability, body weight, and weight of eggs laid in Japanese quails, with some effects increasing in importance over generations. Moreover, the effects on body weight and egg weight could be transmitted transgenerationally, suggesting non-genetic inheritance mechanisms. This hypothesis is reinforced by the observed reversion of the effect on growth after five unexposed generations. Interestingly, a beneficial effect of thermal manipulation on heat tolerance was observed a few days after hatching, but this effect was not transgenerational.

CONCLUSIONS: Our multigenerational study showed that thermal conditioning of quail embryos has a beneficial effect on post-hatch heat tolerance hampered by transgenerational but reversible defects on growth. Assuming that no genetic variability underlies these changes, this study provides the first demonstration of epigenetic inheritance of traits induced by environmental temperature modification associated with long-term impacts in an avian species.

Alternate JournalJ Anim Sci Biotechnol
PubMed ID37784159
PubMed Central IDPMC10546792
Grant ListANR-15-CE02-0009-01 / / Agence Nationale de la Recherche /