AbstractsBiology & Animal Science

The role of transgenerational epigenetics in the culmination of phenotype


Institution: Roskilde University
Year: 2015
Keywords: Transgenerational epigenetics
Record ID: 1119510
Full text PDF: http://rudar.ruc.dk/handle/1800/21561


Transgenerational epigenetics is defined as epigenetic marks on DNA which are transferred to the gametes and which are retained through reproduction. This project explores the current state of transgenerational epigenetic research and how the latest findings in the field of epigenetics provides new perspectives for the way development and heredity are studied. This is done from the perspective of epigenetics providing a theoretical framework for a reconciling of reductionist and holistic epistemological schools into a neutral approach to life sciences. We make use of three case studies: the influence of parental experience in the fear response of the offspring in mice, the effects of parental care in the stress response of rat pups and epigenetic inheritance on the agouti locus in mice. These cases are studied in terms of their epistemological strengths and weaknesses and the implications the results have for the fields of heredity and developmental biology. In conclusion, development extends further than traditionally thought, especially in the question of reproduction, where epigenetic programming can occur even after the gametes are fully developed and persist throughout the process of reproduction. Inheritance must be rethought to include non-Mendelian mechanisms, which act gradually and show strong signs of not being independent and seem to code for traits acquired from life experience. These changes in the paradigms of heredity and development also imply new avenues for the study and treatment of hereditary and developmental disease, as well as present new ideas in the field of evolution, where random variation is not the only force driving diversity and adaptation.