Genetics

How starving affects you and yours

+ See all authors and affiliations

Science  21 Aug 2015:
Vol. 349, Issue 6250, pp. 839-840
DOI: 10.1126/science.349.6250.839-f

Malnourished children are at higher risk for type 2 diabetes, cancer, and cardiovascular disease later in life. Some scientists hypothesize that this is because early-life experiences prime the body for such encounters later in life. Jobson et al. used the roundworm Caenorhabditis elegans to study this phenomenon. They observed that worms starved early in life were smaller and produced fewer offspring compared to normally fed worms. But the effects did not stop there: Progeny and grandprogeny of starved parents could better resist starvation, and resistance to heat stress persisted for three generations. These results suggest that at least in worms, early stress may be adaptive in an unpredictable environment.

Genetics 10.1534/genetics.115.178699 (2015).

Navigate This Article