Complex trade-offs in the pigeon (Columba livia): egg antioxidant capacity and female serum oxidative status in relation to diet quality

Abstract

Despite the great deal of ecological research interest in modulators of offspring quality and consequences of reproduction on female status, we still know little about the relationships among diet quality, antioxidant capacity of egg components (yolk and albumen) and oxidative status of female birds. In this study, I compared the egg quality (egg size, albumen and yolk antioxidant capacity) and serum oxidative status (oxidative damage, total serum antioxidant capacity, and serum thiols) of female pigeons (Columba livia) fed with foods of different quality (standard quality and decreased quality). I also analysed the patterns of covariation among egg and female traits. The study focussed on the first clutch laid by the female in the breeding season and on the short-term effects of a decrease in diet quality. The treatment did not affect the egg volume, the lipophilic and hydrophilic components of antioxidant capacity (lipOXY and hydrOXY, respectively) or the antioxidant capacity of the albumen (albumOXY). However, females fed a higher quality diet were fatter and had marginally higher values of serum hydroperoxides (oxidative damage) than females fed a lower quality diet. Moreover, females that showed an increase in yolk hydrOXY and serum hydroperoxides also showed a decrease in yolk lipOXY, albumOXY and serum antioxidant capacity. These results show that the female’s oxidative status can be correlated with the antioxidant content of her eggs, but the nature of these correlations is complex, depending on the molecular component measured. The results also suggest that in the pigeon the deposition of hydrophilic and lipophilic antioxidants in the egg may trade off against each other.

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Acknowledgments

I thank two anonymous reviewers for their comments, which helped me to improve the manuscript; Neil Metcalfe for kindly improving the English and for providing valuable comments that improved the manuscript; Claudio Carere and Pat Monaghan for valuable discussions on hormone deposition in the egg. I am also grateful to the International Observatory for Oxidative Stress (Salerno, Italy) and to Giacomo Dell’Omo for advice and support; to Gianfranco Brambilla and Edoardo Vignolo for technical and logistical support at the ISS, Rome.

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Correspondence to David Costantini.

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Communicated by G. Heldmaier.

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Costantini, D. Complex trade-offs in the pigeon (Columba livia): egg antioxidant capacity and female serum oxidative status in relation to diet quality. J Comp Physiol B 180, 731–739 (2010). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00360-010-0456-z

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Keywords

  • Antioxidants
  • Oxidative damage
  • Egg
  • Albumen
  • Diet