Researchers at the University of New South Wales have confirmed a new form of non-genetic inheritance in flies. The research found that offspring can resemble a mother’s previous sexual partner of flies rather than the actual father. The size of offspring was determined not by the actual father but the previous sexual partner of the mother. It is an fascinating example of telegony, which dates back to ancient Greece and was once discredited under modern genetic theories.
Telegony holds that offspring can inherit the characteristics of a previous mate of the female parent, a theory that Encyclopedia Britannica says is now nothing but superstition.
The name may come from Telegony is a lost ancient Greek epic poem about Telegonus, son of Odysseus by Circe. His name is”born far away” – much better than “bastardo” in modern Italian.
UNSW Australia scientists Dr Angela Crean, Professor Russell Bonduriansky and Dr Anna Kopps found that the size of the young was determined by the size of the first male the mother mated with, rather than the second male that sired the offspring. The team produced large and small male flies by feeding them diets as larvae that were high or low in nutrients. They then mated the immature females with either a large or a small male.
Once the females had matured, they were mated again with either a big or a small male:
“We found that even though the second male sired the offspring, offspring size was determined by what the mother’s previous mating partner ate as a maggot.”
Crean said that “Our discovery complicates our entire view of how variation is transmitted across generations, but also opens up exciting new possibilities and avenues of research.” Yes, and a new exciting defense in fly divorce proceedings.
Source: Science Daily