Inbreeding, maternal care and genomic imprinting


Wilkins JF, Haig D. Inbreeding, maternal care and genomic imprinting. J Theor Biol. 2003;221 :559-64.

Date Published:

Apr 21


Inactivation of expression of the paternal allele at two maternally silent imprinted loci has recently been reported to diminish the quality of care that female mice lavish on their offspring. This suggests that there can be disagreement between the maternally and paternally derived genomes of mothers over how much care for offspring is appropriate, with the paternally derived genome favoring greater care. The reason for such disagreement is not obvious because the maternally and paternally derived alleles at a locus have equal probabilities of being transmitted to each of the mother's ova and, therefore, would appear to have equal interests in a mother's offspring. However, if a female mates with a related male, her two alleles may have different probabilities of being present in the sperm that fertilize her ova. Natural selection can favor silencing of the maternally derived allele at a locus that enhances the quality of maternal care if the average patrilineal relatedness between a female and her mates decreases more rapidly than the average matrilineal relatedness. Just such an asymmetrical decrease in relatedness over time would be expected in a structured population in which patrilineal inbreeding is more common than matrilineal inbreeding.


Wilkins, Jon FHaig, DavidengResearch Support, Non-U.S. Gov'tEngland2003/04/26 05:00J Theor Biol. 2003 Apr 21;221(4):559-64.

Last updated on 01/26/2015