Navigation Links
University of Toronto study demonstrates impact of adversity on early life development
Date:10/25/2012

TORONTO, ON It is time to put the nature versus nurture debate to rest and embrace growing evidence that it is the interaction between biology and environment in early life that influences human development, according to a series of studies recently published in a special edition of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS).

"Biologists used to think that our differences are pre-programmed in our genes, while psychologists argued that babies are born with a blank slate and their experience writes on it to shape them into the adults they become. Instead, the important question to be asking is, 'How is our experience in early life getting embedded in our biology?'" says University of Toronto behavioural geneticist Marla Sokolowski. She is co-editor of the PNAS special edition titled "Biological Embedding of Early Social Adversity: From Fruit Flies to Kindergarteners" along with professors Tom Boyce (University of British Columbia) and Gene Robinson (University of Illinois).

Sokolowski, who is a University Professor in the Department of Ecology & Evolutionary Biology (EEB), the inaugural academic director of Uof T's Fraser Mustard Institute for Human Development and co-director of the Experience-based Brain and Biological Development Program (EBBD) at the Canadian Institute for Advanced Research (CIFAR) says that relatively little is known about the gene-environment interplay that underlies the impact of early life adversity on adult health and behaviour.

In one of the studies in the series, Sokolowski and her colleagues found that chronic food deprivation and lack of adequate nutrition in the early life of the fruit fly Drosophila melanogaster had significant impact on adult behaviour and quality of life. Fruit flies are especially useful for genetic studies because they share a surprising number of qualities with humans, are inexpensive to care for and reproduce rapidly, allowing for several generations to be studied in just a few months.

The researchers examined two types of fruit flies with variants in the foraging gene (for) known as rovers and sitters because of their different behaviours in the presence of food.

When well fed as larvae, rover adults exhibit darting exploration into open areas as they move about in search of food, while sitters show little of this behaviour. When nutritionally deprived as larvae, both rover and sitter adults exhibit darting exploration. Further, the sitters that faced nutritional adversity in early life displayed a reduction in their ability to reproduce. Rovers exhibited no effect on their reproductive fitness.

"The foraging gene makes an enzyme called PKG, which is found in the fly as well as in most other organisms, including humans. When faced with a nutritionally adverse environment while growing up, the levels of the enzyme dropped in flies," says Sokolowski. "This told us that the foraging gene listens to its environment." Transgenic manipulations of PKG levels altered darting exploration in well fed but not nutritionally deprived flies.

The research team included James Burns, a CIFAR junior fellow in Sokolowski's lab, U of T EEB professor Locke Rowe and EEB post-doctoral fellow Nicolas Svetec, as well as colleagues from the Universitiy of British Columbia and the Universit Paris-Sud. The findings are reported in the paper "Chronic food deprivation in early life affects adult exploratory and fitness traits, in the October 16, 2012 issue of the Proceedings of the Nataional Academy of Science.

The papers in the volume are authored largely by CIFAR researchers, and comprise a multidisciplinary collection of research into fields from molecular genetics, evolutionary biology and neuroscience, to social and behavioural science, epidemiology and social policy as well as the emerging field of epigenetics, which investigates deviations in a gene's ability to produce its products (e.g. RNA, protein) caused by mechanisms other than changes in an organism's underlying DNA sequence.

The collection of papers in the volume sets out an emerging new field of the developmental science of childhood adversity, and changes conventional understanding of the early years of human life.

"This is the first volume of collected research to provide a substantial and comprehensive picture of the interaction between experience and biology in the early years," says Sokolowski.

"Developmental neuroscience is extraordinarily intricate and complex, and so by approaching this question from multiple angles we're able to reveal a convergence on a number of themes and set a clearer direction for future research."


'/>"/>
Contact: Sean Bettam
s.bettam@utoronto.ca
416-946-7950
University of Toronto
Source:Eurekalert  

Related biology news :

1. University of Houston study shows BP oil spill hurt marshes, but recovery possible
2. University of Alberta led research may have discovered how memories are encoded in our brains
3. BGI, University of Helsinki and Wuhan University sign a MOU concerning cooperation on genomics
4. Marshall University study may lead to new treatments for prostate cancer
5. University leads £6 million EU project to tackle obesity
6. A University of Tennessee professors hypothesis may be game changer for evolutionary theory
7. Life expectancy may affect when you get married, divorced, have kids: Queens University study
8. University of Toronto biologists predict extinction for organisms with poor quality genes
9. University of Minnesota invention helps advance reliability of alternative energy
10. Israel names Tel Aviv Universitys Renewable Energy Center a Center of Research Excellence
11. University of Minnesota startup offers game-changing energy solutions that reduce CO2 emissions
Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:
Related Image:
University of Toronto study demonstrates impact of adversity on early life development
(Date:4/26/2016)... and LONDON , April ... part of EdgeVerve Systems, a product subsidiary of ... today announced a partnership to integrate the Onegini ...      (Logo: http://photos.prnewswire.com/prnh/20151104/283829LOGO ) ... their customers enhanced security to access and transact ...
(Date:4/15/2016)... , April 15, 2016  A new partnership ... more accurate underwriting decisions in a fraction of ... competitively priced and high-value life insurance policies to ... With Force Diagnostics, rapid testing (A1C, ... data readings (blood pressure, weight, pulse, BMI, and ...
(Date:4/13/2016)... , April 13, 2016  IMPOWER physicians supporting Medicaid ... setting a new clinical standard in telehealth thanks to ... leveraging the higi platform, IMPOWER patients can routinely track ... and body mass index, and, when they opt in, ... convenient visit to a local retail location at no ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:6/27/2016)... - BIOREM Inc. (TSX-V: BRM) ("Biorem" or "the Company") announces ... Clean Technology Fund I, LP and Clean Technology Fund ... venture capital funds which together hold approximately 59% of ... as converted basis), that they have entered into an ... in Biorem to TUS Holdings Co. Ltd. ("TUS") (en.tusholdings.com) ...
(Date:6/27/2016)... ... June 27, 2016 , ... Cancer experts from Austria, ... could be a new and helpful biomarker for malignant pleural mesothelioma. Surviving Mesothelioma ... read it now. , Biomarkers are components in the blood, tissue or ...
(Date:6/27/2016)... (PRWEB) , ... June 27, 2016 , ... ... to bring innovative medical technologies, services and solutions to the healthcare market. The ... implementation of various distribution, manufacturing, sales and marketing strategies that are necessary to ...
(Date:6/27/2016)... , June 27, 2016  Liquid Biotech ... the funding of a Sponsored Research Agreement with ... tumor cells (CTCs) from cancer patients.  The funding ... CTC levels correlate with clinical outcomes in cancer ... data will then be employed to support the ...
Breaking Biology Technology: