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Early life growth and telomere length in wild boar piglets 2018

Cite this dataset

Spießberger, Magdalena et al. (2021). Early life growth and telomere length in wild boar piglets 2018 [Dataset]. Dryad.


Life history theory predicts a trade-off between growth rates and lifespan, which is reflected by telomere length, a biomarker of somatic state. We investigated the correlation between telomere length and early life growth of wild boar piglets, Sus scrofa, kept under semi-natural conditions with high food availability to examine our hypothesis that increased pre-and post-natal growth will lead to telomere length attrition but that a high supply of nutrient may provide the possibility to compensate telomere loss via telomere repair mechanisms. As predicted, our data showed a clear negative correlation between birth body mass and initial telomere length: heavier neonates had shorter telomeres at birth, and we did not find an influence of the mother on initial telomere length. Body mass at birth correlated with body mass later in life and post-natal growth rate did not affect telomere length. We observed an increase in telomere length during postnatal development, suggesting that high food availability allowed piglets to invest into both, growth and telomere restoration. The increase in telomere length over the duration of the study was not accompanied by telomerase activity, thus telomere elongation was either caused by alternative mechanisms or by short pulses of telomerase activity, that we missed. Taken together, this study suggests a trade-off between investment into growth and telomere maintenance even before birth and the possibility to compensate telomere attrition during growth under high amounts of available energy.


Data on body mass, body length and relative telomere length was sampled from 26 wild boar piglets (Sus scrofa) of four different litters during their first four months of life. Animals were kept in semi-natural conditions with high food availability and data were collected from March to July 2018. DNA was extracted from buccal mucosa and relative telomere length (RTL) was assessed using the real-time quantitative polymerase chain reaction method (qPCR).

Usage notes

The readme file contains an explanation of each of the variables in the dataset, its measurement units, and the way it was calculated. N/A =  values not available. Information on how the measurements were done can be found in the associated manuscript referenced above.


Alexander von Humboldt Foundation

Government of Lower Austria

University of Veterinary Medicine Vienna