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Growth acceleration results in faster telomere shortening later in life

Cite this dataset

Salmón, Pablo; Millet, Caroline; Selman, Colin; Monaghan, Pat (2021). Growth acceleration results in faster telomere shortening later in life [Dataset]. Dryad.


There is a wealth of evidence for a lifespan penalty when environmental conditions influence an individual´s growth trajectory such that growth rate is accelerated to attain a target size within a limited time period. Given this empirically demonstrated relationship between accelerated growth and lifespan, and the links between lifespan and telomere dynamics, increased telomere loss could underpin this growth-lifespan trade. We experimentally modified the growth trajectory of nestling zebra finches (Taeniopygia guttata), inducing a group of nestlings to accelerate their growth between 7 and 15 days of age, the main phase of body growth. We then sequentially measured their telomere length in red blood cells at various time points from 7 days to full adulthood (120 days). Accelerated growth between 7 and 15 days was not associated with a detectable increase in telomere shortening during this period compared with controls. However, only in the treatment group induced to show growth acceleration, the rate of growth during the experimental period was positively related to the amount of telomere shortening between 15 and 120 days. Our findings provide evidence of a long-term influence of growth rate on later-life telomere shortening, but only when individuals have accelerated growth in response to environmental circumstances.


Experimental manipulation: growth acceleration induced by diet switch; Growth: body mass measurements; Telomere dynamics: red blood cells using Southern Blot Telomere Restriction Fragment analysis (TRF).

Usage notes

Data uploaded in wide format.


Leverhulme Trust, Award: RPG-2017-061