Whether we like it or not, our parents can have a big influence on our lives and the people we become. And a new Monash University study has found that men pass on far more than just genetic stuff to their kids. In fact, a dad’s diet can affect their son’s ability to ‘win’ against another sperm after mating.
The study, published in Biology Letters journal
, tested fruit flies because they are very similar to human genes.
"Our study found that males that were raised on either high or low protein diets, but spent their adulthood on an intermediate diet, produced sons that had large differences in gene expression, which most likely contributed to the resulting differences in sperm competitiveness," said
lead author Dr Suzanne Zajitschek.
"They differed in their ability to sire offspring, with the high-protein dads producing sons who were doing much better in sperm competition, which means their sperm was more likely to win against a competitor's sperm within the female tract.
"We also found that the immune response genes were less active in sons of low-protein fathers, while metabolic and reproductive processes were increased in sons of fathers on a high protein diet," she said.
It’s a fascinating discovery, and one that will no doubt lead to more research into the area.