Mothers can shape the developmental trajectory of their offspring through the transmission of resources such as hormones, antioxidants or immunoglobulins. Over the last two decades, an abundant literature on maternal effects in birds has shown that several of these compounds (i.e. androgens, glucocorticoids and antioxidants) often influence the same offspring phenotypic traits (i.e. growth, immunity or oxidative stress levels), making interaction effects between egg components a likely scenario. However, the potential interactive effects of maternally transmitted compounds on offspring development and potential co-adjustment of these compounds within an egg are still poorly understood. Here, we report the results of an interspecific comparative analysis on birds' egg yolk composition (i.e. androgens and antioxidants) where we found that yolk carotenoid and vitamin E concentrations are positively associated, supporting the hypothesis that these two antioxidants act in synergy. The concentrations of vitamin E also increased with increasing concentrations of testosterone. This last result confirms the emerging idea that androgens and antioxidants are co-adjusted within eggs and that maternally transmitted antioxidants might limit the potential direct and indirect effects of prenatal exposure to high testosterone levels on oxidative stress.
Electronic supplementary material is available online at https://dx.doi.org/10.6084/m9.figshare.c.3569529.
- Received August 16, 2016.
- Accepted October 24, 2016.
- © 2016 The Author(s)
Published by the Royal Society. All rights reserved.