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Research article2020Peer reviewedOpen access

Females adjust maternal hormone concentration in eggs according to male condition in a burying beetle

Paquet, Matthieu; Parenteau, Charline; Ford, Lucy E.; Ratz, Tom; Richardson, Jon; Angelier, Frederic; Smiseth, Per T.


In birds and other vertebrates, there is good evidence that females adjust the allocation of hormones in their eggs in response to prenatal environmental conditions, such as food availability or male phenotype, with profound consequences for life history traits of offspring. In insects, there is also evidence that females deposit juvenile hormones (JH) and ecdysteroids (ESH) in their eggs, hormones that play a key role in regulating offspring growth and metamorphosis. However, it is unclear whether females adjust their hormonal deposition in eggs in response to prenatal environmental conditions. Here we address this gap by conducting an experiment on the burying beetle Nicrophorus vespilloides, in which we manipulated the presence of the male parent and the size of the carcass used for breeding at the time of laying. We also tested for effects of the condition (i.e., body mass) of the parents. We then recorded subsequent effects on JH and ESH concentrations in the eggs. We found no evidence for an effect of these prenatal environmental conditions (male presence and carcass size) on hormonal concentration in the eggs. However, we found that females reduced their deposition of JH when mated with heavier males. This finding is consistent with negative differential allocation of maternal hormones in response to variation in the body mass of the male parent. We encourage further work to investigate the role of maternally derived hormones in insect eggs.


Differential allocation; Ecdysone; Eggs; Juvenile hormone; Maternal effect; Nicrophorus vespilloides

Published in

Hormones and Behavior
2020, Volume: 121, article number: 104708

      SLU Authors

    • Paquet, Matthieu

    UKÄ Subject classification

    Evolutionary Biology

    Publication identifier


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