Relationship between diet and sex of offspring

Summary

Principal Investigator: ROBERT MICHAEL ROBERTS
Abstract: There is considerable controversy whether in mammals altering the quality or quantity of food eaten by the mother can bias the sex ratio of offspring born. In initial experiments we compared the sex ratio of pups from NIH Swiss and CF 1 outbred mice fed two nutritionally complete diets that differed in their content of fat. The first was low in total triglyceride but high in carbohydrate (LF, low fat diet), while the second provided 60% of the calories as lard (VHF, very high fat). The diets had no effect on either litter size or gestation length, but mothers on high fat produced many more sons than daughters and a striking proportion of male-biased litters, while the reverse was true on the low fat diet. The sex ratio skewing correlated with diet and was independent of maternal weight. Age was an important variable, however. Only mature mice provided sex ratios that were highly skewed by diet at first pregnancy. The first goal will be to generate information on the relationship between the nature and timing of the diet and sex ratio. The aims will be to; 1) follow sex ratios of pups when mice are provided the diets only for a limited period during the period preceding conception and during early pregnancy; 2) confirm the generality of the observations by testing several inbred strains of mouse with different genetic backgrounds with the long term goal of analyzing the genetic basis of the sex biasing phenomenon; 3) test whether increasing the amount of n-3 unsaturated fatty acids in the diet influences sex ratio of offspring, as has been suggested for humans; 4) determine whether reducing the caloric intake of mice on the VHF diet causes a downwards readjustment of the sex ratio of pups. A second goal will be to determine when the skewing in sex ratios in bred females occurs and to understand what mechanisms might be responsible. The experiments will show whether Y-sperm have some advantage over X-sperm in either reaching or fertilizing oocytes in the reproductive tract of VHF mice, and, likewise, whether X-sperm have some advantage in LF mice. We shall test whether conceptuses are selected according to sex after fertilization rather than before, and, if so, whether the selection process occurs prior to or subsequent to implantation. Finally, we shall examine whether the experimental diets cause changes in serum hormones, blood electrolytes and metabolites, and alterations in the reproductive tract environment in such a manner that conceptuses of one sex might have an in utero competitive advantage over the other. Our observations could have major implications for control of human fertility, provide a practical way of adjusting the sex of progeny for a range of laboratory and farm animals according to how they are fed, and lend further credence for the controversial existence of a process of sex allocation in mammals that depends on the availability and quality of food resources.
Funding Period: 2004-08-01 - 2009-05-31
more information: NIH RePORT

Top Publications

  1. pmc Fluorescent in situ hybridization for sex chromosome determination before and after fertilization in mice
    J J Whyte
    Department of Biomedical Sciences, 440F Christopher S Bond Life Sciences Center, University of Missouri Columbia, 1201 Rollins Road, Columbia, MO 65211, USA
    Theriogenology 67:1022-31. 2007
  2. ncbi The contrasting effects of ad libitum and restricted feeding of a diet very high in saturated fats on sex ratio and metabolic hormones in mice
    Andrei P Alexenko
    Department of Animal Sciences, University of Missouri Columbia, Christopher S Bond Life Sciences Center, Columbia, Missouri 65211 7310, USA
    Biol Reprod 77:599-604. 2007
  3. ncbi Effects of diets enriched in omega-3 and omega-6 polyunsaturated fatty acids on offspring sex-ratio and maternal behavior in mice
    Emily D Fountain
    Department of Biomedical Sciences, University of Missouri Columbia, Columbia, Missouri 65211, USA
    Biol Reprod 78:211-7. 2008
  4. pmc Contrasting effects of different maternal diets on sexually dimorphic gene expression in the murine placenta
    Jiude Mao
    Department of Biomedical Sciences and Bond Life Sciences Center, University of Missouri, Columbia, MO 65211, USA
    Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A 107:5557-62. 2010
  5. ncbi Periconceptional influences on offspring sex ratio and placental responses
    Cheryl S Rosenfeld
    Departments of Biomedical Sciences and Bond Life Sciences Center, University of Missouri, Columbia, MO 65211, USA
    Reprod Fertil Dev 24:45-58. 2011
  6. pmc Effect of maternal obesity on estrous cyclicity, embryo development and blastocyst gene expression in a mouse model
    Pablo Bermejo-Alvarez
    Bond Life Sciences Center, University of Missouri, 263a Life Sciences Center, 1201 Rollins St, Columbia, MO 65211, USA
    Hum Reprod 27:3513-22. 2012
  7. pmc Effect of glucose concentration during in vitro culture of mouse embryos on development to blastocyst, success of embryo transfer, and litter sex ratio
    P Bermejo-Alvarez
    Bond Life Sciences Center, University of Missouri, Columbia, Missouri 65211, USA
    Mol Reprod Dev 79:329-36. 2012
  8. ncbi Effects of maternal diet and exposure to bisphenol A on sexually dimorphic responses in conceptuses and offspring
    C S Rosenfeld
    Departments of Biomedical Sciences and Bond Life Sciences Center, University of Missouri, Columbia, MO, USA
    Reprod Domest Anim 47:23-30. 2012

Detail Information

Publications9

  1. pmc Fluorescent in situ hybridization for sex chromosome determination before and after fertilization in mice
    J J Whyte
    Department of Biomedical Sciences, 440F Christopher S Bond Life Sciences Center, University of Missouri Columbia, 1201 Rollins Road, Columbia, MO 65211, USA
    Theriogenology 67:1022-31. 2007
    ..FISH analysis of sperm and of multiple conceptuses or post-natal tissue provided a cost-effective, accurate alternative to PCR-based sex determination...
  2. ncbi The contrasting effects of ad libitum and restricted feeding of a diet very high in saturated fats on sex ratio and metabolic hormones in mice
    Andrei P Alexenko
    Department of Animal Sciences, University of Missouri Columbia, Christopher S Bond Life Sciences Center, Columbia, Missouri 65211 7310, USA
    Biol Reprod 77:599-604. 2007
    ..Since males fed the VHF diet had neither more Y-sperm nor sired more sons than daughters, the dietary effects are manifested exclusively through the female...
  3. ncbi Effects of diets enriched in omega-3 and omega-6 polyunsaturated fatty acids on offspring sex-ratio and maternal behavior in mice
    Emily D Fountain
    Department of Biomedical Sciences, University of Missouri Columbia, Columbia, Missouri 65211, USA
    Biol Reprod 78:211-7. 2008
    ..05). In conclusion, the N-3 diet had negative effects on murine fecundity and maternal behavior, whereas the N-6 diet favored birth of daughters...
  4. pmc Contrasting effects of different maternal diets on sexually dimorphic gene expression in the murine placenta
    Jiude Mao
    Department of Biomedical Sciences and Bond Life Sciences Center, University of Missouri, Columbia, MO 65211, USA
    Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A 107:5557-62. 2010
    ..In conclusion, gene expression in the murine placenta is adaptive and shaped by maternal diet. It also exhibits pronounced sexual dimorphism, with placentae of females more sensitive to nutritional perturbations than placentae of males...
  5. ncbi Periconceptional influences on offspring sex ratio and placental responses
    Cheryl S Rosenfeld
    Departments of Biomedical Sciences and Bond Life Sciences Center, University of Missouri, Columbia, MO 65211, USA
    Reprod Fertil Dev 24:45-58. 2011
    ....
  6. pmc Effect of maternal obesity on estrous cyclicity, embryo development and blastocyst gene expression in a mouse model
    Pablo Bermejo-Alvarez
    Bond Life Sciences Center, University of Missouri, 263a Life Sciences Center, 1201 Rollins St, Columbia, MO 65211, USA
    Hum Reprod 27:3513-22. 2012
    ..Does maternal obesity affect estrous cyclicity, embryo development and blastocyst gene expression in mice?..
  7. pmc Effect of glucose concentration during in vitro culture of mouse embryos on development to blastocyst, success of embryo transfer, and litter sex ratio
    P Bermejo-Alvarez
    Bond Life Sciences Center, University of Missouri, Columbia, Missouri 65211, USA
    Mol Reprod Dev 79:329-36. 2012
    ....
  8. ncbi Effects of maternal diet and exposure to bisphenol A on sexually dimorphic responses in conceptuses and offspring
    C S Rosenfeld
    Departments of Biomedical Sciences and Bond Life Sciences Center, University of Missouri, Columbia, MO, USA
    Reprod Domest Anim 47:23-30. 2012
    ....