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Mouse Study Finds That A Father’s Nutritional Patterns Are Inherited By Offspring

December 17, 2010: 11:07 AM EST

Research by U.S. and Israeli scientists has found that a father’s nutritional patterns are passed on to the next generation through the sperm rather than through social influence. The fathers had never seen their offspring and spent very little time with the mothers. Researchers tested whether environmental conditions are inherited by offspring (i.e., transgenerational effects) by analyzing genes in mice whose fathers were fed a low-protein diet. Hundreds of genes changed in the offspring of those protein-starved males, researchers found. The findings add to scientific evidence that epigenetics – inheritable chemical modifications to DNA – may be an important way to pass information about the environment from one generation to the next. The researchers acknowledged they are not sure now the information is encoded and passed from father to offspring.

Benjamin R. Carone, et al. , "Paternally Induced Transgenerational Environmental Reprogramming of Metabolic Gene Expression in Mammals", Cell, December 17, 2010, © Elsevier Inc.
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