Oxidative stress and the effect of parasites on a carotenoid-based ornament

Francois Robert Mougeot, Jesus Martinez-Padilla, J. D. Blount, Lorenzo Perez-Rodriguez, L.M.I Webster, Stuart Brannon Piertney

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

44 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Oxidative stress, the physiological condition whereby the production of reactive oxygen and nitrogen species overwhelms the capacity of antioxidant defences, causes damage to key bio-molecules. It has been implicated in many diseases, and is proposed as a reliable currency in the trade-off between individual health and ornamentation. Whether oxidative stress mediates the expression of carotenoid-based signals, which are among the commonest signals of many birds, fish and reptiles, remains controversial. In the present study, we explored interactions between parasites, oxidative stress and the carotenoid-based ornamentation of red grouse Lagopus lagopus scoticus. We tested whether removing nematode parasites influenced both oxidative balance (levels of oxidative damage and circulating antioxidant defences) and carotenoid-based ornamentation. At the treatment group level, parasite purging enhanced the size and colouration of ornaments but did not significantly affect circulating carotenoids, antioxidant defences or oxidative damage. However, relative changes in these traits among individuals indicated that males with a greater number of parasites prior to treatment (parasite purging) showed a greater increase in the levels of circulating carotenoids and antioxidants, and a greater decrease in oxidative damage, than those with initially fewer parasites. At the individual level, a greater increase in carotenoid pigmentation was associated with a greater reduction in oxidative damage. Therefore, an individual's ability to express a carotenoid-based ornament appeared to be linked to its current oxidative balance and susceptibility to oxidative stress. Our experimental results suggest that oxidative stress can mediate the impact of parasites on carotenoid-based signals, and we discuss possible mechanisms linking carotenoid-based ornaments to oxidative stress.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)400-407
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Experimental Biology
Volume213
Issue number3
Early online date19 Jan 2010
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Feb 2010

Keywords

  • lipid peroxidation
  • oxidative damage
  • antioxidant defences
  • honest signalling
  • nematode Trichostrongylus tenuis
  • red grouse Lagopus lagopus scoticus
  • sexual selection
  • LAGOPUS-LAGOPUS-SCOTICUS
  • MALE RED GROUSE
  • AUTUMN TERRITORIAL BEHAVIOR
  • MALE HOUSE FINCHES
  • IMMUNE ACTIVATION
  • PLUMAGE COLORATION
  • SEXUAL SIGNALS
  • BIOLOGICAL SAMPLES
  • ALECTORIS-RUFA
  • ZEBRA FINCHES
  • nematode Trichostrongylus tenuis

Cite this

Mougeot, F. R., Martinez-Padilla, J., Blount, J. D., Perez-Rodriguez, L., Webster, L. M. I., & Piertney, S. B. (2010). Oxidative stress and the effect of parasites on a carotenoid-based ornament. Journal of Experimental Biology, 213(3), 400-407. https://doi.org/10.1242/jeb.037101